Rescuers worried about Pilgrim’s well-being, particularly in the outback, which is hot and packed with mallee scrubs and poisonous snakes.
“I tried to stay out of the sun and stay alive. I just knew that it was my job to stay alive,” she said, later saying she worried other people would think she had been kidnapped.
Pilgrim eventually stumbled upon an empty vacation home and wrote SOS in the dirt driveway, NBC News reported.
Officials had been looking for Pilgrim since Sunday with helicopters, drones and specialist tactical teams with volunteers in tow, according to NBC News. Police searched on foot, horseback and motorcycle, the Independent reported. Search crews had planned to look for Pilgrim for another day, ABC Australia reported.
But it was Neil Marriott’s CCTV cameras that found Pilgrim. He had recently installed the surveillance cameras after several break-ins on his property, he told ABC Radio Adelaide in an interview. Marriott’s son called and told him to take a look at the live footage, ABC Australia reported.
“So I did, and there was the SOS written in the ground, which wasn’t there the day before,” he said to the outlet. Marriott was 45 miles away from his property, NBC News reported.
Marriott called police and began to grow anxious about Pilgrim because it was dark by the time they arrived, ABC Australia reported.
Pilgrim was found about four miles from the site where she had gone missing. She had found an unoccupied building with water near Marriott’s property, according to ABC Australia. She was found in good health, though she was slightly dehydrated, according to NBC News.
A police officer texted Marriott that Pilgrim had been found, ABC Australia reported.
Superintendent James Blandford said at a news conference that Pilgrim was found “hollering and yelling and being very happy the police had actually arrived,” NBC News reported.
Blandford said he was pleased with how the community responded and how technology helped find Pilgrim. “Good on her for having the nous for doing the SOS in front of the CCTV camera,” he said, according to ABC Australia.