Elderly woman survives cliff plunge, 3 days in ravine

An elderly woman has survived a 920-foot plunge over a cliff in her car and then three days trapped at the bottom of a ravine in New Zealand.

Shirley Loft, reportedly in her 70s, was winched to safety by a rescue helicopter today, according to TVNZ.

Loft was last seen Thursday morning before setting off on a short drive from her home in Whitianga on the country's North Island.

She was discovered after her neighbor Geoff Gillett and his friend Valance McLaughlin went looking for her  and noticed "scuff marks" on the edge of the drop at a rest area on a country road, TVNZ reported.

The pair climbed down to investigate and "found Shirley sitting under a tree," police constable Don Edgecombe told reporters. "After her car had crashed over the edge, she had managed to extract herself from the vehicle."

"When found she was conscious and able to talk but disorientated, hungry and very thirsty," he said.

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Police said they believed Loft had pulled herself from her crashed vehicle, and survived by drinking water from a stream at the bottom of the ravine.

While McLaughlin climbed back up the 200-meter bank to raise the alarm, Gillett stayed with Loft until rescue workers arrived, Edgecombe told The New Zealand Herald.

She was in "remarkably good condition physically," he said.

Loft was winched aboard a rescue helicopter and flown to a hospital where she was treated for minor injuries to her legs.

Police praised the bravery of Mr Gillett and Mr McLaughlin, saying they most likely saved her life.

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