A family member of a woman who was found alive after 12 days missing in Utah’s Zion National Park has shared further details about Holly Suzanne Courtier’s mysterious disappearance.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, a park official and a sheriff’s sergeant have publicly questioned a previous account provided by the 38-year-old woman’s daughter, who told CNN on Monday that her mother had hit her head on a tree, leaving her disoriented. She said that her mother told her she was too weak and dehydrated to speak, but also that Courtier had chosen to stay close to a water source, reportedly the Virgin River, as she was unable to seek help for herself.
A park official later told Fox News that Courtier appeared to be in reasonably good condition when she was rescued on Sunday, and that she required minimal assistance leaving the park. On Wednesday, Sgt. Darrell Cashin of Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team, which was minimally involved in the search for Courtier, said the water in the Virgin River is contaminated with toxic algae and unsafe to drink. Cashin said if Courtier had drank the water, she would have become very ill or possibly died.
“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,” he said, noting that the family’s story and statements from park officials didn’t add up.
But Courtier’s family continues to insist that she was in grave danger, though the account Courtier’s sister provided to CBS News on Thursday appears to differ from what Courtier’s daughter told CNN earlier this week . While the daughter, who is 19 years old, indicated that her mother had become disoriented after hitting her head, Courtier’s sister Jamie Courtier-Strong suggested to CBS News that Courtier hit her head on a tree as a result of being disoriented. She also said the injury caused a concussion.
Courtier-Strong told the news station that her sister had been fasting for two days prior to her visit to Zion National Park, and had planned to continue, though it is unclear if Courier did continue the fast.
“She became very weak, early on, the first day or two, because she wasn’t eating or drinking,” Courtier-Strong said in Thursday’s interview, claiming that Courtier had lost 15 pounds while she was missing.
In response to a reporter’s suggestion that Courtier may have wanted to go “off the grid,” her sister replied, “She did. Initially she wanted to be off the grid … She did not want to be off the grid for 12 days.”
Courtier-Strong said that her sister thought it would be a brief trip, and did not intend to alarm her family.
The CBS footage shows a tree with tally marks carved into the trunk, where Courtier reportedly kept track of the passing days.
Courtier-Strong said that witnesses who spotted Courtier had noticed a hammock that had been included in her missing persons description.
“She would have died for sure if we hadn’t found her,” Courtier-Strong said.
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