Nearly a month after she was pulled from neck-deep mud and tangled mangrove branches, Kathleen Shino of Holiday said she still has no idea how she got to the swamp in the first place.
"I knew I was in water, but I didn't know where I was," Shino told NBC's Today show Monday.
In her first public remarks about the ordeal, the 62-year-old retiree said she remembers going on her daily walk through the neighborhood but does not remember going anywhere near the lake, east of U.S. 19 and south of Flora Avenue — about 800 steps from her home. Shino has diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, but she has no history of dementia, and doctors are as clueless about the episode as she is, Shino told NBC.
What she does remember, she said, are the gruelling hours she spent in the 90-degree-plus weather, submerged in swamp water, with ants crawling on her face and fish nipping at her legs. It is believed that Shino was stuck for up to four days.
"I never realized how long 24 hours really is," Shino said. "There were times I would go, 'Maybe I'm already dead, and I don't know it.' "
Shino had last spoken with her family June 17. Family members couldn't reach her the next day, and neighbors reported seeing her car in the garage. She had left home without her keys, her cell phone or the crutches she typically uses to get around, her family said. Shino's family reported her missing June 19.
On the afternoon of June 21, Alexandra Echazabal, 30, and her mother, Alexia Cuartas, 61, heard a single word coming from the swamp: "Help."
Rescuers pulled Shino from the swamp later that day. Kristi Fusco, Shino's daughter, told NBC that Shino has begun to wear a GPS bracelet that authorities would be able to trace if she were lost again.