MOUNT PLEASANT, Pa. (KDKA) – After a woman was allegedly beaten by her boyfriend and left for dead, state police are calling it one of the most incredible survival stories they’ve ever dealt with.
Police say the victim’s boyfriend thought she was dead when he dumped her in the woods, leaving her to walk more than 2 miles in the dark to find help.
“She had a giant gash on the side of her face. Her hair had briars. I’d never seen anybody look quite like she did,” says Debbie Scott, who discovered the 40-year-old woman dragging herself across her front yard on Meadowbrook Road in Mount Pleasant Township.
“She didn’t have anything on except a muscle shirt — no pants, no shoes — covered in mud, covered in blood.”
According to state police, the woman was allegedly beaten by Charles Etling of Mount Pleasant after the two got into an argument inside Etling’s pick-up truck. It was along White Bridge Road that Etling allegedly assaulted the woman.
“At that time, Mr. Etling decided he was gonna kill his girlfriend. He beat her and then tried to strangle her, and then drug what he thought was her lifeless body into the woods and left her near a creek bed,” says Trooper Stephen Limani.
Convinced she was dead, he visited a friend identified only as Josh and asked what he should do.
“When he talks to his friend, his friend suggests ‘we need get rid of the body, you can’t just leave it there,'” says Limani.
But the body had moved. Over 11 hours, blinded by eyes swollen shut and beaten nearly to death, the victim stumbled 2 miles along Jacobs Creek.
“She couldn’t see anything but she heard the lawnmower and she knew that in order for her to survive, she had to follow the sound of the lawnmower,” says Scott.
Debbie Scott called state police, while at nearly the exact same time Etling told police he had murdered his girlfriend. Then the call came in saying she was alive.
“She had a will to survive because there’s no reason why she did,” says Scott.
Etling is in the Westmoreland County Jail held without bond. He’s facing multiple charges, including attempted murder and aggravated assault.
State police says the victim has a long road to recovery, but given her strong will, they think she will be fine.