Rita Chretien and her husband, Albert, had planned to spend a fun-packed week in Las Vegas in March. Their family sent them on their way from their home in British Columbia, not expecting them back until March 30. When they didn’t return as planned, their children raised the alarm. But they could not be found. The Chretiens had vanished.
Until this past Friday, May 6, seven weeks after they disappeared. Hunters on all-terrain vehicles stumbled across the Chretiens’ van on a remote, rarely used logging road in Nevada, where it had been stuck since March 20. They looked in the window, checking to see if anyone was inside, if everyone was OK. “No,” responded Chretien. “I’m not OK.” Weak and barely able to move, she had been alone in the van since March 22 when her husband set out with his GPS to find help.
It turns out that instead of making their way to Vegas, the Chretiens had gotten trapped in the wilderness, a trackback from a wrong turn taking them even further off their path. They ended up on a series of remote logging roads, usually impassable in winter, where their van got hopelessly stuck. After two days in the van, Albert set out with his GPS unit to find help.
He hasn’t been seen since.
When Mrs Chretien was found, she had lost approximately 30 pounds and was extremely debilitated. She had survived on melted snow and some trail mix — snacks she had packed for the road trip. She spent her time reading books and writing in her journal and foraging for water and waiting for someone, anyone, to come along.
The hunting group scrambled to get assistance for Mrs. Chretien, who was soon airlifted to a hospital and is now in stable condition. She is expected to recover fully.
Local authorities have initiated an extensive search for her husband, attempting to locate him in the Nevada wilderness via horse, all-terrain vehicle and air. While the Chretien family is realistic about their father’s chances, they also realize that finding their mother was a miracle — and they’re holding out hope that there might be another one.
Photo credit: MiguelViera on Flickr