Strange twist in missing hiker mystery

A police sergeant says details “do not add up” in the disappearance and subsequent rescue of a woman who survived almost two weeks lost in a national park.

Los Angeles woman Holly Courtier, 38, was found in Zion National Park in the US state of Utah on Sunday, 12 days after she failed to meet a shuttle bus scheduled to pick her up after a visit.

The mother was rescued safely from what US National Park Service (NPS) officials described as a “thickly vegetated area along the Virgin River” after authorities tracked her down based on a credible tip, a spokeswoman said in a statement.

“She was able to leave of her own capability with minimal assistance,” the statement said.

Sgt Darrell Cashin from Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue department said his team was enlisted to help rangers search for Ms Courtier, who went missing around October 6.

But since she was found safe, Sgt Cashin told local news station ABC4 he has noticed “discrepancies and questions that do not add up”.

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Holly Courtier was rescued in the park almost two weeks after she was reported missing. Picture: US National Parks ServiceSource:Supplied

Sgt Cashin noted that she was recovered within roughly 800m from where authorities said she was spotted, according to the report.

But Ms Courtier’s daughter, Kailey Chambers, had a different description of the events that took place, telling CNN her mother hurt her head early in her hike and became disoriented.

“She injured her head on a tree,” Ms Chambers said in a text exchange.

“She was very disoriented as a result and thankfully ended up near a water source — a river bed. She thought her best chance of survival was to stay next to a water source.”

Ms Chambers added her mother was so weak she was unable to take more than a step or two without collapsing.

“This prevented her from being able to seek out help. She told me she was so dehydrated she couldn’t open her mouth,” Ms Chambers said.

“She lost her job as a nanny due to COVID-19,” Ms Chambers added. “The family could not afford to keep paying her. She made that a positive thing, said that gave her the time to get out, see the parks.”

Ms Chambers previously told Fox News her mother “absolutely loves hiking,” and called it “one of her favourite things to do … when she needs clarity and to spend some time with herself.”

The LA mother went missing around October 6 and was found 12 days later.Source:Supplied

Sgt Cashin boasts approximately nine years as the county search and rescue’s liaison, has more than two decades performing search and rescue operations, and is an emergency medical technician, according to ABC4.

He reportedly questioned several aspects of both Ms Courtier’s family’s and NPS’ outlines of events.

If Ms Courtier had used the Virgin River as a water source for the full 12-day period, Sgt Cashin said, there would have been a “high probability” that she wouldn’t have survived, because the water contains a toxic level of cyanobacteria, ABC4 reported.

“If she had been drinking that water, unless she had some really high immune system, she would’ve been very, very ill and probably unable to come out on her own,” Sgt Cashin said.

“She either took a lot of water with her or had another clean water source that was near here, but the Virgin River is not that source.”

Spokespersons for Ms Courtier and the Park Service did not immediately respond to Fox News’ requests seeking comment.

Zion National Park, Utah.Source:Supplied

The police sergeant also questioned the seriousness of Ms Courtier’s head injury, and said rescuers would have taken specific measures if it was severe.

“If we had found somebody in that condition with that kind of severe head injury, we would have at minimum called for a transport agency to check her out,” Sgt Cashin told the outlet.

“The fact that that didn’t happen tells me that they did not find any significant injury to her that would’ve prompted them to do that.”

Sgt Cashin noted “some question of her decision making regarding her trip to the park,” according to ABC4, which reported that based on his knowledge of the events, Ms Courtier did not tell anyone in her family about her trip when she left “in the middle of the night.”

“If she’s by the Virgin River, she’s down in the valley, not in the back-country up in the plateaus and the peaks,” Sgt Cashin said.

“She’s in that main part of the canyon, which always has thousands of people walking up and down those trails. I’m sure people walked by yelling for her.”

This article originally appeared on Fox News and was reproduced with permission

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