Rescued B.C. woman returns to Canada

A B.C. woman who was stranded in the Nevada wilderness for 49 days has been transferred from a hospital in Idaho to an undisclosed B.C. medical facility.

Rita Chretien now being treated at a B.C. medical facility

A B.C. woman who was stranded in the Nevada wilderness for 49 days has been transferred from a hospital in Idaho to an undisclosed B.C. medical facility.

Rita Chretien, 56, and her husband, Albert, 59, got stuck on a logging road in mid-March after taking a detour during a trip from their home in Penticton to Las Vegas to attend a trade show. Her husband, who went to look for help, is still missing, and bad weather on Tuesday stalled the search for him.

The couple originally tried to seek help together shortly after getting stuck, Rita Chretien told police.

The couple walked about seven kilometres, but turned back and returned to their van, presumably because they were tired, according to the Elko County Sheriff's Department.

Two days later, Albert Chretien left their van and headed out to look for help by himself.

Rita Chretien was rescued Friday when a group of people out hunting for elk antlers spotted the couple's brown van.

She was treated at St. Luke's Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls, Idaho, where she was reportedly in "high spirits," eating solid foods and receiving physical therapy.

The hospital confirmed that she was discharged Tuesday.

"As the Chretien family makes the journey home with the mother, the family wishes to extend their sincere appreciation for all the prayers and well wishes [they have] received over the past few days," a statement from the hospital said.

"They are grateful for the respect for their privacy during their stay which has allowed their family time to celebrate and reconnect."

'Right place at the right time'

A Nevada woman said it was a "miscommunication" between her family members that led them to the B.C. woman.

Whitnie Sill-Herman, Troy Sill and Chad Herman spotted the van Friday while they were out riding ATVs and looking for antlers.

"We were at the right place at the right time. It's funny, because it was actually a miscommunication between me, and my husband and my dad," Sill-Herman told CBC News.

Wilderness survival

John Peachell, a doctor who specializes in wilderness medicine, said water is the "absolute key" to survival.

"It's necessary for circulation and respiration, and also for converting the food we take in to make it usable energy," Peachell said.

Peachell said an individual's metabolism, fitness level and even pre-existing fat levels may also make a difference.

The science of survival is somewhat anecdotal, Peachell said, and factors that can't be measured are often at play.

"Whether it be religion to fall on or some memory to fall on, or just that whole will to survive — I think is something that we can't measure in a laboratory."


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"Usually we'd go for a little bit, and stop and meet, and kind of talk, and have drinks or whatever and continue on," she said. "For some reason, he just kept going. We couldn't catch up to him, and when we did, there she was."

Sill-Herman said Chretien signalled to them that she needed help.

"Just her opening the van and saying, 'No, no, I'm not OK' is what I remember most," Sill-Herman said.

"She just told us she was hungry, she was very hungry, or she was starving."

Call rescue helicopter

Sill-Herman said they knew they needed to get her out of the area. But after spending weeks stuck in the van with a limited supply of food, Chretien wasn't strong enough to ride out on an ATV.

Sill-Herman and her family offered Chretien snacks and then rode to a point where they could call in a rescue helicopter.

Troy Sill told ABC's Good Morning America that Chretien packed up her items and was ready to go by the time they got back from the nearby ranch.

"It was amazing when we got back there what the adrenalin had done for her," he said Tuesday.

Sill-Herman said that Chretien actually asked her for a business card or a phone number so she could thank her rescuers.

"And I told her, 'Don't worry about that, you just take care of yourself,'" Sill-Herman said.

With files from The Associated Press