Canadian woman survives 7 weeks lost in remote area of Nevada

Sat May 7, 2011 3:48pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A 56 year-old Canadian woman stranded in a van for seven weeks on a remote dirt road in northern Nevada survived on snow and some trail mix until hunters discovered her, authorities said on Saturday.

With Rita Chretien recovering in an Idaho hospital following her rescue on Friday afternoon, searchers are looking for her husband, who left the van seeking help, said Corporal Dan Moskaluk, spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Rita Chretien's family has spoken to her by phone.

"They related that they were very relieved to see how much she sounded like herself," Moskaluk told Reuters. "It's obviously very emotional and bittersweet, given that the husband is still outstanding."

Albert Chretien, 59, left the couple's Chevrolet Astro van to seek help, three days after they got stuck in the mud on March 19 on a forest service road 20 miles from the nearest highway, in Elko County in northern Nevada, Moskaluk said. The area is near the border with Idaho.

The Canadian couple had left their home in Penticton, British Columbia, to attend a Las Vegas trade fair for their construction excavation business.

They were last seen on March 19 buying gas in Baker City, Oregon, and Moskaluk said they got stranded on the dirt road in Elko County, at an elevation of 5,200 feet.

The area where the van was stranded has been blanketed with snow and rain in recent weeks. It was unclear if the couple was sight-seeing, or simply got lost.   Continued...