The B.C. woman who survived seven weeks alone in the Nevada mountains told her pastor that her new global positioning device caused her and her husband to become lost.
Neil Allenbrand, pastor of the church Rita Chretien attends in Penticton, B.C., told the Penticton Herald that Chretien explained to him how the GPS in the couple's vehicle sent them in the wrong direction.
"She said to me: 'When we first went off the road, we thought it would just be a short road and we'd be back to the main road right away. The next thing we know we turned down the wrong road and we were where we shouldn't be and it's dark and we can't find a way to turn around."
The ground search resumed Wednesday for her husband, Albert Chretien, who remains lost in the Nevada wilderness following his wife's rescue.
About 20 people set out on horseback and ATVs on Wednesday morning to try to find the man, who was last seen by his wife on March 22, after taking the GPS unit and a cellphone to go and get help.
The search had been stalled by bad weather, muddy roads and melting snow.
Albert and Rita Chretien got stuck on a remote road after taking a detour while travelling from Penticton to Las Vegas. The 59-year-old man left on foot to try to find help while his 56-year-old wife stayed in the van.
She rationed her small supply of food and drank muddy water until a family riding all-terrain vehicles spotted the brown van on Friday and called for help.
911 call released
Rita Chretien was initially taken to a hospital in Idaho, but has since been transferred to a B.C. hospital.
Also Wednesday, Nevada police released a 911 call made by one of the people who discovered the van while out in the woods.
"We found a lady that's been stuck in her van ... since March 19," said Chad Herman, who made the call from a ranch down the road.
'What really struck me is her mental and spiritual survival.'—Pastor Neil Allenbrand says of Rita Chretien
"She's about dead, and her husband took off a month ago for help and never came back, so I'm sure he's dead."
The 911 call has him on the phone for several minutes with the dispatcher and then a sheriff. They quickly realize it's urgent when Herman tells them Chretien is weak and the roads are all almost impassible.
"This is dispatch again. We're sending a helicopter up that way, a medical helicopter."
Herman arranged to meet the helicopter to guide it in for the rescue.
Meanwhile, the Chretien family has asked for privacy while Rita Chretien continues her recovery.
"You know a lot of people are talking about her physical survival, but what really struck me is her mental and spiritual survival," Allenbrand said. "I mean the miracle of her as a whole person is just really stark and amazing."INTERACTIVE: a B.C. couple's perilous journey