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Woman missing for 5 months survives winter in Utah canyon

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 9:19 PM AKDT
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UTAH COUNTY, Utah (KSTU) - A Utah woman was found camping in a canyon five months after she was reported missing. She survived the winter by eating grass and moss.

The 47-year-old woman, whose identity is being withheld, was found Sunday afternoon in a camping tent at a campsite area in Diamond Fork Canyon. She had been reported missing Nov. 25, 2020, after a U.S. Forest Service employee noticed her vehicle in a trailhead parking lot.

“All we had was her car down here in this parking lot, some of her personal items in that car and a campsite up here — all of which appeared to have been unused for an extended period of time and no evidence that she was still here,” said Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

Rescue crews searched the area a number of times over the five months the woman was missing, but there was no sign of her.

A sheriff’s sergeant and drone pilot came out to search again Sunday. They sent out a drone, which crashed, and when they went looking for it, they came across a small campsite with a tent.

“The zipper of the tent unzipped, and this woman, who we had identified the previous year in November and December last year, sticks her head out,” Cannon said.

Just before 3 p.m., the sergeant called in to dispatch that they had located the woman. Police say she was in rough physical shape. To survive, she drank from a nearby stream, rationed some food she had and ate grass and moss.

“I have to be honest, we fully expected we wouldn’t find anybody related to that alive up here, given how long it had been. In situations like that, we often find somebody after they passed away,” said Sgt. Cannon. “We were quite relieved and happy that she was still alive.”

The sheriff’s office believes the woman was out in the remote area “by choice” rather than being “lost.” Cannon says there’s a good possibility she “didn’t want to be found.”

Based on initial evaluation, the sheriff’s office believes she has some sort of mental illness. She was taken to the hospital for mental health evaluation. Her condition since is unknown.

Copyright 2021 KSTU via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.