VANCOUVER (Reuters) – A Canadian woman who survived seven weeks stranded in the Nevada wilderness had a premonition her ordeal was ending but did not know if she was about to die or be rescued, her family said on Sunday.
Rita Chretien was recovering in an Idaho hospital, having survived by drinking melted snow and rationing a small supply of candy, food and fish oil as she read a Bible in her stranded vehicle to pass the time, doctors and relatives said.
Crews were still searching for Chretien’s husband, Albert, who she last saw on March 22, when he set off on foot from the vehicle to find help.
Officials say it is unlikely he survived the rugged conditions.
The Chretiens were driving from their home in Penticton, British Columbia, to a trade show in Las Vegas on March 19 when they got lost.
Their van became stuck in mud on a remote forestry road in northeast Nevada.
A search was conducted along their planned route after the couple failed to return home at the end of March, but there was no sign of them until Friday when two wildlife hunters found the vehicle with Rita Chretien inside.
She told her family she had a feeling a day before she was found that something was about to happen but did not know if she was about to be rescued or die.
“She got ready on Thursday for the outcome, and this is what it is,” her son Raymond Chretien told reporters in Twin Falls, Idaho. “She had books she was reading. She had time to think and pray for whichever outcome was to come.”
Doctors said Chretien, 56, was not likely to have survived in the wilds much longer.
“She obviously had the mind-set of survival, and that obviously must have been something that helped her to go as long as she did,” Dr. James Westberry told reporters.
Rita Chretien kept a journal in the vehicle so her family would know what had happened if she did not survive.
The couple were using a GPS unit to navigate when they got lost attempting to take a scenic route to Las Vegas.
Raymond Chretien acknowledged that while it is unlikely his father, Albert, 59, also survived the family was not giving up hope after his mother’s rescue.
“We were praying for a miracle, and, boy, did we get one,” he said. “We are praying for another.”
(Reporting by Allan Dowd, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst)
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