Missing Utah woman found living in tent after disappearing from campsite in November
A Utah woman who went missing near a trailhead in November was found alive in a tent more than five months after she disappeared in the area.
The 47-year-old woman, whose name was withheld, was first reported missing in the Diamond Fork area of Spanish Fork Canyon on November 25, 2020 after a U.S. Forest Service official found an abandoned car in a parking lot at the Utah County campsite Sheriff's Office said in a press release on Monday.
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Officials wanted to inform the woman of the canyon's seasonal closings but found no sign of her. They found camping equipment and information that could help identify the missing woman.
Search parties responded and combed the area on foot and by air, but still could not find the woman.
The MPs confiscated the car and took away the camping equipment, believing it had been abandoned.
Investigators worked over the next few months to contact those who might know the woman to find out her possible whereabouts. While attempts to contact her family were unsuccessful, detectives spoke to her co-workers and learned that she may be struggling with mental health.
The woman's whereabouts were unknown until Sunday when a USCO sergeant with members of a nonprofit flight search group returned to the Diamond Fork area to continue looking for signs of the missing woman, the sheriff's office said.
But the drone used to search for evidence crashed on the first pass through the area, forcing the sergeant and drone pilot to set out on foot to find it. As the couple went into the hills, they discovered what appeared to be an abandoned tent.
Shortly after they found the tent, the missing woman appeared from the inside, USCO said.
The woman "had lost significant weight and was weak," according to the sheriff's office. "But she was apparently resourceful too."
While carrying a small amount of food, the woman told officers that she was looking for grass and moss and using the nearby river as a water supply.
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"And we now believe that she has knowingly made a decision to stay in the region in the months since November 2020," the press release said.
Officials said the woman was taken to a local hospital for mental health assessment and resources were made available in case she should use them.
"But we want to make it clear that while many people choose not to live in the circumstances and conditions this woman lived in, they haven't done anything against the law," the sheriff's office said. "And in the future, she could choose to return to the same area."
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