Security camera spots SOS from woman lost for three days in Australia

Image: An SOS sign written in the dirt by Australian woman Deborah Pilgrim
An SOS message sign written by Australian woman Deborah Pilgrim who went missing in Australia. Copyright AFP - Getty Images
By Alexander Smith with NBC News World News
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"There was a bit of euphoria that, wow there's our break," police said of the the SOS message.


A woman who went missing for three days in the Australian bush was found Tuesday after her SOS message was spotted by someone watching the feed from a remote security camera.

Deborah Pilgrim, 55, from Adelaide, was last seen Sunday in the mountains 50 miles outside Adelaide, where she had been at a camping party with friends, police said.

She told Australian media she went for an early morning walk and got lost.

Despite a helicopter, drones, specialist tactical teams and volunteers joining the search, officials worried they would not find Pilgrim in the heavy scrubland populated by venomous snakes.

Deborah Pilgrim.
Deborah Pilgrim.Peter Williams

She was only saved after she came across an empty rural vacation home and wrote SOS in the driveway, according to South Australia Police. That message was spotted by the property's owner 45 miles away, who had been intermittently checking the feed from the home's private digital security camera and then contacted police.

"There was a bit of euphoria that, 'wow there's our break,'" Superintendent James Blandford told a news conference Wednesday, describing the moment they saw the SOS message. He said rescuers rushed to the home and nearby "they found Deborah hollering and yelling and being very happy the police had actually arrived."

He said that Pilgrim was slightly dehydrated but otherwise in good health.

"We held great fears for her safety. That area is quite harsh, there's some heavy scrub and it's very easy to lose your footing," Blandford said. "With venomous reptiles around the area, if she had been snake-struck she would have been in all sorts of grief."

He added, "She's home safe and sound and has an adventure to talk about."

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