ELKO, Nev. (AP) — A rescued Canadian woman who survived for seven weeks on water and trail mix after getting stranded in a remote part of Nevada was recovering Saturday as a search for her still-missing husband moved forward.
Hunters on Friday spotted the van of Albert and Rita Chretien on a logging road in Elko County in northeastern Nevada, according to a statement by the Baker City, Ore., police, who had searched for the couple.
The Chretiens disappeared in late March during a trip to Las Vegas.
The 56-year-old woman told her son, Raymond Chretien, that her 59-year-old husband set off for help on foot a few days after their van got stuck in mud and that was the last she saw of him.
“We’re stunned,” Raymond Chretien told The (Portland) Oregonian in a telephone interview. “We haven’t fully digested it. This is a miracle.”
Officer Dan Moskaluk, spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in British Columbia, said the woman was at an Idaho hospital and reportedly walking around.
“Her family said she lived off water and small amounts of trail mix,” losing 20-30 pounds during the ordeal, Moskaluk told The Associated Press.
The Elko County Sheriff’s office said it was coordinating a search for the Chretien.
The couple left their Penticton, British Columbia, home on March 19, and reached Baker City in eastern Oregon that afternoon, where they were captured on a store’s surveillance camera.
Raymond Chretien told The Oregonian they made it to Nevada later that day, sightseeing on back roads when their van got stuck in mud. Three days later, Albert Chretien set out on foot.
“They got turned around off the main road that they should have been on,” Moskaluk said.
Officials said weather over the past month in that area has included snow, rain and chilly temperatures.
“I don’t believe they were prepared for winter weather,” Raymond Chretien said. “They don’t go camping.”
The Chretiens were reported missing when they didn’t return home March 30.
The RCMP, Baker City police and other agencies mounted a search in April but failed to turn up any sign.
Moskaluk described it as an extensive search covering 3,000 square miles “from March 31 onward.”
He said the family is well regarded in Penticton and operates a heavy equipment excavation business.
Raymond Chretien said his mother doubts whether she would have made it three more days. She had been keeping a journal to let her family know what had happened.
Her son says she immediately apologized for the anguish she caused him, his two brothers and other relatives.
“She felt extremely bad for us all,” he said.