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Woman Released From Hospital After Surviving 5 Months In The Wild

SPANISH FORK, Utah – A woman survived the winter in Diamond Fork Canyon while living in a tent and supplementing her diet with moss and grass, according to deputies with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

Sgt. Spencer Cannon said Tuesday the 47-year-old woman had been camping in the canyon since at least November.

“By the fact that she survived over five months here through the harshest weather of the year kind of tells you that she knows how to make it on her own, too,” Cannon said.

Deputies weren’t always confident they would find the woman alive.

Cannon said crews last fall spotted the woman’s car and found camping equipment, but there was no sign of the woman.

Despite leaving a note on the car, the vehicle remained there when deputies returned a week later. Additional searching was unsuccessful.

Through further investigation, Cannon said detectives couldn’t identify any family members but did locate the woman’s former employer. Coworkers said they hadn’t seen the woman and noted she kept to herself a lot.

“We didn’t have evidence that she was in trouble, but given the nature of the circumstances and our experience with these types of situations, we were not hopeful that there was going to be a positive outcome for where she was — if it turned out she was there,” Cannon said.

This past weekend, crews went back to the canyon with a nonprofit aerial search group, which arrived with a drone to help image the area.

“The drone goes up and on one of the first, if not the first, passes, the drone crashes into a tree,” Cannon said. “They went out looking for the drone and as they went out looking for the drone, they came across a tent.”

Cannon said as they stood there looking at the tent, the woman they had been searching for unzipped the tent and looked outside.

“She was really worn out, she had lost a lot of weight, she was pretty weak, but she was alive,” Cannon said.

Cannon said the woman had a small amount of food that she had rationed, but she also gathered moss and grass and water from the natural landscape and consumed those as well.

“The conditions up here can get really drastic in terms of temperature, wind, snow, heavy weather like that,” Cannon said. “The fact that she was able to make it through — albeit with some decline in her physical condition — it’s nothing short of amazing, really.”

Cannon said deputies took the woman to the hospital to be checked out and she was subsequently released.

Deputies told the woman about services that were available to her, but Cannon said it was unclear where the woman planned to go from here.

“Be familiar with what the resources are and make them available, but if you try to force it, it can potentially make the situation even worse,” Cannon said. “Medical professionals and mental health professionals spoke to her and visited with her and they were satisfied that she can have a rational conversation and explained she just liked where she was and at some point, you just have to go along with that.”

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