Jaime Strong, the sister of the woman who went missing in Utah’s Zion National Park for 12 days, is still in shock that her sibling is safe and sound.
Strong’s sister, Holly Suzanne Courtier, 38, was reported missing on October 8, but fortunately, on Sunday, October 18, she was found by a visitor who alerted park officials of her location.
“I think God got her through this,” Strong, 41, told the Today show on Thursday, October 22. “I think it’s a miracle. I truly believe there is no reason she should be alive. It doesn’t make sense. She didn’t have the proper gear, and she didn’t have food or water.”
Strong described how her sister looked — Courtier lost between 15 and 18 pounds — after going almost two weeks without any food and water. Additionally, Courtier hadn’t eaten before she visited the park on October 6 because she decided to go on “a journey of fasting.”
“When I walked in the room and saw how emaciated she was, I lost it,” Strong said. “It was like seeing someone who had aged 30 years in 12 days. It was horrific, but at that point I was so happy to see her it didn’t matter.
“She said she didn’t have anything to drink at all,” Strong added. “She was very well aware of the toxins in the river. There was a statement made that she said she set up camp because she wanted to stay close to the river, but we were never implying that she drank the water.”
Courtier, who is an experienced hiker, only had on leggings and a T-shirt in addition to carrying a thin blanket and sweater, which hardly kept her warm when the temperature was in the 40s.
Courtier saw another person in the park, but at that point, she was so dehydrated that she couldn’t yell to ask for help. Despite the National Park Service saying Courtier was able to “leave of her own capability with minimal assistance” after she was found, Strong was just grateful that her sister was safe and sound.
“It’s just so blown out of proportion,” Strong explained. “When you think you’re going to die and you see a ranger, she said she literally got like giddy inside because she knew she was going to see her daughter and her family, so you definitely have some adrenaline working for you at that point.”
Strong revealed that since the incident, Courtier has checked herself into a mental wellness center. “She has definitely been through some trauma over the past several years,” Strong said. “I don’t think she’s properly dealt with it and gotten the proper help for it, and now is the time.”
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