A Utah woman who went missing from a campsite over five months ago was found alive over the weekend in a tent and reportedly subsisted of grass, moss, and a small amount of food, authorities said.
The 47-year-old woman, who was not identified by authorities, was first reported missing on Nov. 25, 2020, by U.S. Forest Service employees who located an abandoned car in the parking lot of the campgrounds in the Diamond Fork area of Spanish Fork Canyon, about 50 miles south-east of Salt Lake City, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office (UCSO) said in a news release.
Detectives launched a search effort for the woman by ground and air but didn’t find anyone at the time. They only located camping equipment and information that identified the person who was camping there.
From there, officials impounded the abandoned car and all the equipment while making an attempt to contact the woman’s family, but without success.
Authorities later managed to contact former co-workers of the missing person but didn’t get any breakthrough information on her whereabouts. Investigators learned from the contacts that the woman is possibly struggling with “mental health challenges,” according to the sheriff’s office.
On May 2, a sergeant of the UCSO, who is also the coordinator of a search and rescue team, returned to Diamond Fork alongside volunteers to conduct an aerial search in hopes to find evidence the woman is still alive in the area.
“During one of the first passes, the drone crashed and the Sergeant and drone pilot set out to find the drone,” the sheriff’s office said. “As they walked into the hills they found a tent that they believed was abandoned. About then the zipper of the tent opened and there was the woman SAR officials searched for in December 2020.”
Investigators learned that the woman reportedly “knowingly chose to remain in the area over the months since November 2020” and was located very weak after losing a “significant amount of weight.”
The woman told officials she foraged grass and moss to subsist over the months-long period while also having access to an ample supply of water in a nearby river. Authorities said she also carried a “small amount of food with her.”
After the discovery, the woman was taken to a 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 sheriff’s office noted. “And in the future, she might choose to return to the same area. Resources were made available to her should she decide to use them.”