A crashed drone Sunday led Utah deputies to a woman they’d been trying to find for five months in the remote Diamond Fork Canyon area, officials say.
Searchers had been looking for the 47-year-old woman after finding her vehicle in a nearby parking lot in late November, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office reported in a release.
They also found camping equipment that appeared to have been abandoned, the release said.
“We didn’t have immediate reason to believe that she was in danger, we just didn’t know what her status was,” Sgt. Spencer Cannon told KSTU.
On Sunday, a sergeant met with a volunteer aerial search group to continue looking for the woman, the release says. When their drone crashed, the group went looking for it.
“In doing that, they came across another small campsite where there was a tent,” Cannon told KSTU. “As they’re looking at this, the zipper of the tent unzipped and this woman who we had identified ... in November and December of last year sticks her head out.”
The woman told rescuers that she chose to stay at her camp despite having limited food supplies, the release said. She also lost “significant” weight and was weak.
“But she was apparently also resourceful,” the release said. The woman told rescuers she survived by foraging for grass and moss, while a nearby river provided drinking water.
The woman was taken to a local hospital for a mental health check, officials wrote. But the release notes that the woman’s actions broke no laws and that she might choose to return.
Cannon told KSTU that rescuers were “relieved and happy” to find the woman alive, noting that after such an extended search they normally find people who have passed away.
“Our hats off to her as a survivor,” Cannon told the station. “Whatever else is going on in her life, her ability to survive in undoubtedly difficult circumstances is remarkable.”