A 47-year-old woman who went missing in November has been found alive in a tent in a national forest in Utah, having survived for five months by drinking river water and eating moss and grass.
The woman, who has not been named, was described as “resourceful” by local police, who found her by chance after officers set out to retrieve a crashed drone they had been using during the search.
A search and rescue mission was launched on Nov 25 last year after an abandoned car and camping equipment was found by US Forest Service Officials. They had been preparing for seasonal closures of parts of Spanish Fork Canyon, 50 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Despite having the woman’s identity, officers were unable to make contact with her family, while former co-workers said they did not know where she could be.
After a punishing winter, with temperatures plunging to as low as -10 degrees celsius at night, officers teamed up with a non-profit areal search organisation, who flew a drone over the area on Sunday.
The drone crashed, and while attempting to recover it, a sergeant and the drone pilot stumbled upon what they thought was an abandoned tent.
But as they walked up to it, the zip opened and the woman poked her head out.
“We now believe she knowingly chose to remain in the area over the months since November 2020,” said a statement by Utah County’s Sheriff's Office.
“She did have a small amount of food with her, and she told SAR officials she foraged for grass and moss to subsist. She also had access to an ample supply of water in a nearby river.”
She had however, “lost a significant amount of weight and was weak,” police added.
Because of the woman's condition, she was taken to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation.
“We want to be clear that while many people might choose to not live in the circumstances and conditions this woman did, she did nothing against the law,” they said.
“In the future she might choose to return to the same area.”