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PHOENIX (AP) — They spent 60 years together and traveled to Africa, China, Asia, South America and other parts of the world.
But it was a relatively short drive from the Phoenix area to their home in Albuquerque, N.M., and a fateful decision to take a forest road as a shortcut that finally separated Dana and Elizabeth Davis.
Dana Davis, 86, was recuperating Thursday in a hospital in Globe, Ariz., two days after the couple decided to try to walk out of the mountains after spending five nights in their broken-down car.
It wasn't long before 82-year-old Elizabeth Davis collapsed and died.
Dana Davis tried to revive her then kept moving. He spent a freezing night under a tree before being rescued by an Arizona Game and Fish Department officer on Wednesday morning.
The Davis' children were flying into Phoenix and could reach the hospital in Globe, Ariz., about midday Thursday, Cobre Valley Medical Center spokeswoman Evelyn Vargas said.
Davis was in very good condition, a day after he was found walking along a road in Gila County.
He and his wife had been driving to New Mexico on Dec. 1 when they tried to take an unpaved forest road and ended up stranded during two snowstorms.
Vargas spoke with Dana Davis for about 30 minutes on Wednesday night and said he was awake, alert and eating turkey and yams. He spoke at length about his wife, who he called Betty, and their life together.
The couple had celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this past year while traveling in southern Asia. Davis told her the couple had traveled the world.
"He was just talking about his travels, he and his wife," Vargas said. "He said, 'you know, Betty had never left New England before we got married, and she's the one that started all these trips for us.' They absolutely loved to travel. They loved to look at wildlife."
Detective Seth Tyler of the Chandler, Ariz., police department said the couple had been visiting a nephew in the suburb southeast of Phoenix. They set out on U.S. 60 rather than the interstate because they wanted to visit a wildlife refuge near Socorro, N.M.
But U.S. 60 splits, and they accidentally ended up on U.S. 70. Realizing their mistake, Tyler said, the couple consulted a map and decided to take a forest road that connects to U.S. 60.
"It's not a good road," Tyler said. "On the forest roads out here you have to have a high clearance vehicle. You really have to have a four-wheel drive, and they were in a LeSabre. They made it about six to 10 miles when their transmission or something went out. The car would run, but it wouldn't go anywhere."
He said it was unclear if the couple had any food in their car.
Tyler said it also was unclear if the woman had any medical conditions that might have contributed to her collapse.
"He just said she collapsed and he made it sound like she died pretty quickly," Tyler said.
Tyler said the couple did not have a cell phone but that wouldn't have mattered.
"There is no service out there," he said. "It's pristine wilderness not touched very often by man."