Missing Florida woman survives for month on soda, granola bars

Daughter says her 74-year-old mother remains hospitalized

Local 6 News at 6:00p
Local 6 News at 6:00p

LEESBURG, Fla. – A 74-year-old Central Florida woman who was missing for nearly a month survived in the woods on granola bars and discarded sodas, according to her daughter.

Traute Rankin was reported missing from her Leesburg home on May 2, police said.

Her daughter told Local 6 that her mother remains hospitalized after being located Saturday.

Renee Shelley also showed Local 6 the area where her mother camped out.

Rankin had a blanket under a large palm tree in a wooded area off Citrus Boulevard about 30 yards from the road. 

Rankin survived off granola bars she had in her purse, according to her daughter.  There were several open granola bar wrappers and several empty plastic soda bottles at the campsite.

Rankin would walk along the street and find soda bottles people had discarded and drink what was left, Shelley said.

"When she couldn't find anymore of those, she tried to walk to Walmart, but she was so dehydrated, she collapsed before she got there," Shelley said.

Someone spotted her lying in the bushes at the edge of the parking lot Saturday afternoon and called 911.

Shelley said her mother has mental health issues that caused her to become frightened and paranoid.

"That's why she left her apartment," she said.

Doctors have not given a time frame about when she might be released, according to Shelley.