‘Missing’ woman had lived in US forest ‘voluntarily’ for five months surviving on river water and moss

A 47-YEAR-OLD woman who was thought to have gone missing in a forest in Utah in November has been found, having voluntarily lived in a tent for five months by drinking river water and eating moss and grass.

he 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 (SAR) mission was launched on November 25 last year after an abandoned car and camping equipment were 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 knowing 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 14F (-10C) at night, officers teamed up with a non-profit aerial search organisation, which flew a drone over the area on Sunday.

The drone crashed, and while attempting to recover it, a sergeant and the drone pilot stumbled on 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,” a statement by Utah County Sheriff’s Office said.

“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,” the statement said.

“In the future she might choose to return to the same area.”

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]

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