Carol Kiparsky, 77, and Ian Irwin, 72, were found alive Feb. 22 at around 10 a.m. in a dense area of forest overgrown with foliage, Sgt. Brenton Schneider of the Marin County Sheriff’s office said during a press conference.
According to Schneider, the two hadn’t eaten in over a week and survived by drinking water from a puddle. He added that they were suffering from hypothermia and were unable to walk when they were found, and Kiparsky had lost her shoes.
Schneider said that despite their condition, Irwin still had enough spirit to sing as the rescue team approached them.
“Thank God you found us,” the couple reportedly said when they were found, per KABC-TV. “We’re so happy.”
“Carol and Ian’s survival is a miracle,” Schneider said at the conference in front of some of the involved rescue personnel. “Based on how they were found and how dense the vegetation was that they were in, I don’t think they could have made it without this group of people.”
Video footage of the dramatic rescue was shared by the Marin County Sheriff’s Twitter page, showing a Sonoma Sheriff rappelling down from a helicopter and lifting both of them up in stretchers.
Quincy Webster, a volunteer with the Marin County Search and Rescue, said he and Rich Cassens, another volunteer, heard voices coming from the vegetation.
“At first we thought it was another team, but they started yelling ‘Help!’ We looked at each other and were like, ‘That’s them!'” Webster said at the conference, according to CNN.
Kiparsky and Irwin told rescuers and family they got lost in the dark.
“It got dark and they took a wrong turn and they found themselves in trouble,” Jon Kiparsky, one of the couple’s sons, told Today.
According to Schneider, the hiking duo only wore light clothing. Temperatures had been dropping just below freezing at night, making their chances of survival slim.
“My mother said ‘Oh, I lost a shoe and so I was walking with one shoe and then I lost the other shoe and then I kept walking in my socks,'” he added.
Irwin had cuts on his face from laying down in the rough terrain to help his wife.
“He was laying his body flat into that awful thorny crap with poison oak … so that Carol could go over him,” their son Jonas Irwin told the publication.
By Thursday, the couple was presumed dead, the broadcast station reported at the time.
Family members last heard from Kiparsky and Irwin on Feb. 14. They were staying at an Airbnb cottage in Iverness.
When they failed to check out on Feb. 15, the homeowner alerted the police.
On Feb. 22, the sheriff’s office had 57 personnel sent out in search of the couple.
They were released from hospital yesterday.
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