A sheriff’s sergeant in Utah has expressed doubts over the story of a female ‘Zion hiker’, who claimed to have survived for 12 days without food and water after getting lost. As Holly Courtier’s family raised $12,000 for her on a GoFundMe account, she was suddenly found in the park over the weekend, 12 days after disappearing on a solo trip.
Courtier’s family has since claimed that she survived in the park without any food and stayed beside a river where she could drink water. The woman’s daughter also reportedly said that Courtier hit her head, making it difficult to go seeking help. Although Courtier was found, the family continued to ask for donations on the account, claiming the funds are required for medical bills. They, however, did not specify what her injuries are. The fundraiser, at the time of writing, had been closed.
Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue’s Sgt Darrell Cashin, in a statement on Wednesday, October 21, said that certain parts of the 38-year-old’s story do not “add up” and that there are “discrepancies” to it. The officer said that she could not have survived by drinking the water from the river where she was because it would have killed her. He added that she did not have any head injury as claimed by her family, and that she would have heard people calling her name. He also cast doubts over her “decision” to enter the park.
Cashin said that Courtier left California on a bus in the middle of the night without telling anyone where she was going. He told ABC 4: “The statements that the family is giving and the statements that the park is giving don’t add up. Those are the types of questions I think everybody has. I think the place where that question can be answered is with her.”
Courtier was located about half-a-mile from where she was first seen in the park, and she did not go far because she had hit her head on a tree, according to her family. The officer, however, said that it was unlikely that no one found her or that she did not hear the people in the search parties looking for her. He added that the search teams went “above and beyond” to look for her.
“They even had GPS tracks of every trail, every part of the backcountry, and every valley they searched,” he said. “They had everything about Holly they possibly could’ve gotten to give an indication of what her behavior was like and where she might have gone. Understand, there’s a lot of country up there. If you go off-trail, it will be virtually impossible to find somebody unless they want to be found.”
“If she’s by the Virgin River, she’s down in the valley, not in the backcountry up in the plateaus and the peaks,” the officer added. “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.” Cashin said that the Virginia River water would have either killed Courtier or made her “very ill” considering the presence of high levels of bacteria in the water. “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. 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,” the officer said.