A 70-year-old Sanford woman is recovering in a hospital after being trapped in her car for three days.
A passerby found Joyce Gembecki early Thursday morning submerged in water in a small creek just off State Road 2 near Baxter in Baker County.
Deputies said Gembecki left Sanford on Monday and was driving in Baker County when her car got stuck in about three and a half feet of water on a dirt road. She told deputies she was there for three days with no food or water until a forestry worker happened to find her.
She sat inside until David Bryant and his team with the Florida Forest Service found her.
"We just tried to make sure she was OK and ask how long she'd been there," Bryant said. "And she was -- you could tell she was a little dehydrated, incoherent, so we just tried to make her comfortable."
They gave her food and water, and called the Baker County Sheriff's Office. Gembecki told deputies she left her retirement home in Sanford three days ago to do some sightseeing and got lost. When she got stuck, she decided to wait until help arrived.
"She was sitting in water. The water probably was up to the seat of the car," said Sgt. Brad Dougherty, of the Sheriff's Office. "But she could have gotten out of the car. As you look in this area there is a lot of swamp land and some people may feel like there's alligators out here. I don't know if that's what kept her in the car."
Whatever led her to stay, Bryant is just happy he and his coworkers showed up when they did.
"In those conditions it would scare me," Bryant said. "In the condition she was in, it would surprise me if she could have made it another day."
Gembecki lives at Serenity Towers in Sanford, a retirement village for people ages 55 and older.
Residents can come and go as they please so it wasn't until a Baker County Sheriff's deputy called on Thursday that they knew something was wrong.
"We just couldn't believe it when the sheriff called," said Nicole Coello, the property manager at Serenity Towers. "We were shocked."
"Typically we ask residents to check in and out so we know that they're not here, but she never checked out with us so we really didn't know she was gone from her apartment," said Coello.
Long-time neighbor Mike Baker said taking off on a trip like that doesn't sound like the Joyce he knows.
"People come down just to be together and she's always here, but yeah in the last couple of days we don't know what happened to her," said Baker.
However, it is still unclear just how long Gembecki was stuck in the woods. Some residents at Serenity Towers tell Local 6 they had lunch with Gembecki on Tuesday. Others tell us that had coffee with her as recently as Wednesday night.
Gembecki is expected to be in the hospital for at least another night. She is being treated for hypothermia and is in stable condition.
Her friends plan to go get her and take her back to Sanford on Friday.