The 47-year-old woman was first reported missing in November after U.S. Forest Service officials prepping for seasonal canyon closures found a car in the parking lot near the Diamond Fork Canyon area. The canyon is about an hour southeast of Salt Lake City. Authorities said they found camping equipment and information that helped them identify the woman but could not find her.
Detectives and a search-and-rescue team scoured the area, but no one was found. Former coworkers suggested to deputies that the woman was struggling with mental health issues. Deputies could not get in touch with the woman’s family.
On Sunday, organizers continued their search using a drone. The drone crashed early on in the search. While searching for the drone, they found a tent that looked abandoned. Shortly after the woman they were searching for emerged from the tent.
The woman had lost a significant amount of weight and was weak. After speaking with her, deputies believe she chose to remain in the area and survived on nearby river water and foraging grass and moss.
It is unknown when the woman first began living in the canyon. Deputies did not release her name.
“We want to be clear that while many people might choose to not live in the circumstances and conditions this woman did, she did nothing against the law,” deputies said in a release. “And in the future she might choose to return to the same area. Resources were made available to her should she decide to use them.”