Tillie Tooter, woman who survived 3 days in snake-infested mangrove swamp, dies at 98

Tooter received letters from around the world after story aired on national TV


PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Tillie Tooter, a grandmother who survived three days in a snake-infested mangrove swamp when her car was run off the road in August 2000, has died.

"After a spectacular 98-year run, I am saddened to say that grandma Tillie has finally gone down for the count," Tooter's grandson, Eric Simms, announced on Facebook. "I am just happy that I made it to see her this morning, and told her I love her and thanked her for being a great grandparent."

In August 2000, Tooter was driving on Interstate 595 heading to the airport to pick up her granddaughter when she was hit from behind.

"Out of nowhere, I felt that terrible jolt and my car kept turning over and me with it, of course, and then a tremendous drop," Tooter said after being rescued.

After falling more than 40 feet into a swamp, Tooter was found and lifted out three days later, surviving on rainwater, candy and gum.

"Never expecting to be rescued, never expecting to live through it," Tooter said in 2011. "I was dying at the time that they found me."

Her story was shown on national television, and she got letters from all over the world.

ARCHIVE VIDEO: Tillie Tooter takes Local 10 News for a drive

"It used to embarrass me in the beginning when people, when I first walked into a restaurant and people got up and applauded," Tooter said.

Tooter was 98.

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