ELKO, Nev. – A British Columbia woman who vanished with her husband seven weeks ago on their way to Las Vegas was found alive Friday in a remote part of northeastern Nevada, police said.
Hunters found Rita Chretien, 56, with her van in Elko County, according to a joint statement from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and police in Baker City, Ore., where the couple were last seen. There was no sign of her husband.
“We’re stunned,” the woman’s son, Raymond Chretien, told the (Portland) Oregonian. “We haven’t fully digested it. This is a miracle.”
Rita Chretien survived 49 days in the wilderness by eating snow, her son said. She was airlifted to St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls, Idaho, where a nursing supervisor said she was in fair condition Friday night.
A couple on four-wheelers spotted the Chretiens’ van in a ravine near the Humboldt National Forest, Elko County sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Kevin McKinney told the Elko Daily Free Press.
“She sounds like she’s coherent and she’s very hungry,” McKinney said, adding that officers interviewed her at the hospital.
Police said it’s believed Chretien’s husband, Albert Chretien, 59, left the couple’s 2000 Chevrolet Astro van on foot in March.
The Penticton, B.C., couple were last seen March 19 stopping for gas in Baker City. They were en route to a trade show in Las Vegas.
The couple were reported missing by relatives after they didn’t return home March 30, the Oregonian reported.
In late April, police agencies said an extensive search had failed to turn up any sign of the couple. Vehicles and aircraft had covered 3,000 miles of roads, and pilots had peered into the Burnt and Snake rivers in Oregon looking for any sign of the van.