Hmmm… here’s a bit of a mystery for you, just in time for Halloween.
Hiker Holly Courtier was rescued from Zion National Park in Utah over the weekend, after being missing for nearly two weeks. A truly miraculous account after such a long time in the wilderness!
After the rescue, her daughter Kailey Chambers told CNN:
“She injured her head on a tree. She was very disoriented as a result and thankfully ended up near a water source — a river bed. She thought her best chance of survival was to stay next to a water source. … She was too weak and disoriented . … She was unable to take more than a step or two without collapsing. This prevented her from being able to seek out help. She told me she was so dehydrated she couldn’t open her mouth.”
Harrowing but with a happy ending. A real story of survival.
Yet a liaison for the local Sheriff’s Search & Rescue team, Sgt. Darrell Cashin, told ABC 4 News that Chambers’ account has raised “discrepancies and questions that do not add up.” He noted that the Virgin River, where she was found, is highly toxic and undrinkable. He explained:
“If she had been drinking that water, unless she had some really high immune system, she would’ve been very, very ill and probably unable to come out on her own. She either took a lot of water with her or had another clean water source that was near here, but the Virgin River is not that source.”
Cashin went on to say that if she’d consumed river water, there was a “high possibility” she would have quickly died — but if she didn’t have any water, she also would have died, within two or three days. Of the supposed head injury, he added:
“If we had found somebody in that condition with that kind of severe head injury, we would have at minimum called for a transport agency to check her out. The fact that that didn’t happen tells me that they did not find any significant injury to her that would’ve prompted them to do that. … Physically, she seemed to be in a condition that did not warrant an ambulance and they felt was comfortable to release her to her family to address.”
Um, that certainly doesn’t sound like someone who was barely surviving for several days…
Complicating matters further was the fact that Courtier was found only a half-mile away from the trail where she was last spotted. Presumably, she could have heard when people “walked by yelling for her,” Cashin proposed. He concluded:
“The statements that the family is giving and the statements that the park is giving don’t add up. Those are the types of questions I think everybody has. I think the place where that question can be answered is with her.”
Those questions won’t yet be answered, as the 38-year-old has been checked into a mental facility since her rescue. Her sister Jamie Strong told People that the story has been “twisted.” She said:
“She was very well aware of the toxins in the river. There was a statement made that she said she set up camp because she wanted to stay close to the river, but we were never implying that she drank the water.”
As to why her sister didn’t require emergency transport, Strong cited “adrenaline” fueling her “emaciated” sister. She shared:
“She was very scared and traumatized, and she wanted to leave the park in my car with me and my husband and her daughter, and we drove her straight to the emergency room, so things have just been twisted.”
“I really think she had a mental breakdown and was not in the right state of mind when she decided to take this journey and not tell people where she was going.”
What really puts a twist on this story is the point of the trip in the first place.
Strong explained that her sister traveled to the park as part of a “journey of fasting.” Not only did she “not have anything to eat or drink at all” during her 12 days in the park, but she allegedly hadn’t eaten anything for days before her trip, either.
So the malnourishment was on purpose?!
Her sister chalked Courtier’s survival up to a “miracle,” but we have to admit, something definitely doesn’t add up here. It really seems impossible she could have survived under the conditions her family is describing.
At the end of the day, though, the fact that she’s safe now is the most important thing, and if she’s in a mental facility now, hopefully she is getting whatever help she needs. We wish her the best of luck in her healing.
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