A woman reported missing on Nov. 25 has been found alive five months later in the Utah wilderness, where she survived the winter by foraging for grass and moss. Search and rescue crews launched an initial search for the 47-year-old in the Diamond Fork area of Spanish Fork Canyon in December, without success, after a US Forest Service official spotted an abandoned car in a campground parking lot and some camping equipment nearby, the Utah County Sheriff's Office says, per Fox News. Authorities eventually made contact with the woman's former coworkers. They didn't know where she might be but information suggested she "might struggle with mental health challenges," the office said, per ABC News. A new aerial search was launched Sunday, and while retrieving a crashed drone, the pilot and a sergeant came upon a tent with the woman inside.
"I have to be honest, we fully expected we wouldn't find anybody related to that alive up here, given how long it had been," Sgt. Spencer Cannon tells KSTU. The sheriff's office said the woman "knowingly chose to remain in the area," though it's unclear how she might've left. Her car was impounded last year. The "resourceful" woman had a bit of food that she had apparently been rationing. She also told authorities she'd been living off the land, harvesting grass and moss over the winter. As a result, she was "weak" and "had lost a significant amount of weight." She was taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation but the sheriff's office said she was welcome to return to her campsite as "she did nothing against the law." "Resources were made available to her should she decide to use them," it added. Cannon noted the woman perhaps "didn't want to be found." (Read more Utah stories.)