She was dehydrated, suffering from exposure and she couldn’t walk.
But that didn’t stop 19-year-old Kathleen Bautista joking with police who found her injured, but alive, in bushland near Cotter Reserve, west of Canberra yesterday morning.
Ms Bautista, a student at the University of Canberra, had mysteriously disappeared on September 5 while driving home from a friend’s place after a night out clubbing.
She was last seen around 8am driving through the suburb of Chapman.
On that fateful journey home, Ms Bautista’s car, a Hyundai i30 hatchback, rolled down an embankment before landing on its roof in a shallow creek in the vicinity of Settlement Road.
She was not in the car when a local police officer found her on Friday, but had made her way to a ridge of the gully, around 700 metres away from the wreckage.
Ms Bautista got the attention of the police officer by waving her hands.
She was taken to hospital dehydrated and suffering from exposure. She had also suffered leg and abdominal injuries during the crash meaning she was unable to walk and get help.
The teenager was in a stable condition after being found, but had reportedly not eaten in a week.
Ironically, the creek she crashed into had saved her life – she survived by drinking creek water.
A search had been held for almost week before she was found. Her family and police and emergency services were extremely concerned about her welfare.
During a press conference held Friday afternoon, their relief was evident.
ACT Policing’s Detective Sergeant John Giles said police were overjoyed Ms Bautista had been found.
“What a great day, this is why we come to work,” he said.
Ms Bautista’s father Ronnie added that he was “just ecstatic.”
“I’m just really happy and over the moon that Kat’s been found safe and sound,” he said.