Woman Missing for Months Found Alive at Utah Campground After Relying on Grass, Moss to Survive

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Utah County Sheriff's Office

A 47-year-old woman missing for more than five months was found this weekend at a Utah campground, having relied on moss and grass to survive, authorities said.

Search and rescue teams first searched unsuccessfully for the woman in December after her car was found in a parking lot in the Diamond Fork area of Spanish Fork Canyon, according to a press release from the Utah County Sheriff's Office (UCSO).

But on Sunday, a UCSO sergeant returned to the area alongside representatives of a nonprofit aerial search organization, determined to find evidence the woman was still there.

"During one of the first passes, the drone crashed and the Sergeant and drone pilot set out to find the drone," the release said. "As they walked into the hills they found a tent that they believed was abandoned. About then the zipper of the tent opened and there was the woman SAR officials searched for in December 2020."

Utah County Sheriff's Office

Though the woman "had lost a significant amount of weight and was weak," authorities praised her as "resourceful," and said she had foraged grass and moss to survive, and got her water supply from a nearby river.

They added that they believe she "knowingly chose" to stay in the area.

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U.S. Forest Service officials first found her car in the parking lot of a campground near Diamond Fork on Nov. 25, along with some camping equipment and information that they used to identify her.

An initial search yielded no results, so the car was impounded and the equipment taken for safekeeping, the release said.

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Over the next few months, authorities tried to identify and contact family members, but were unsuccessful, and eventual contact with the woman's former co-workers did not provide any information as to her whereabouts.

"They did, however, find information that suggested this woman might struggle with mental health challenges," the release said.

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Once she was found on Sunday, the woman was taken to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation and provided with resources should she choose to use them.

"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," the release said. "And in the future she might choose to return to the same area."