Holly Suzanne Courtier, the California mother who was missing in Zion National Park for nearly two weeks, has been found alive.
Courtier, 38, arrived at the Utah park on October 6 for a solo hike and was reported missing two days later. The National Park Service announced in a news release that search and rescue crews found Courtier within the park on October 18 after receiving a “credible tip from a park visitor.”
Courtier’s family released the following statement via the National Park Service:
We are overjoyed that she was found safely today. We would like to thank the rangers and search teams who relentlessly looked for her day and night and never gave up hope. We are also so grateful to the countless volunteers who were generous with their time, resources and support. This wouldn’t have been possible without the network of people who came together.
The National Park Service did not immediately provide details about Courtier’s condition or what prompted her disappearance.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Holly Courtier Did Not Arrive For a Scheduled Shuttle Pickup on October 6 But Has Now Been Reunited With Her Family
Courtier arrived at Zion National Park for a hike around 1:30 p.m. on October 6. According to the National Park Service, Courtier was “dropped off by a private shuttle bus at the Grotto parking area.” The NPS did not clarify whether any other hikers were on the shuttle with Courtier.
The park does not currently allow visitors to drive private vehicles within certain areas of the park. An online map of Zion shows the Grotto shuttle stop has a picnic area, restrooms and “ranger-led programs.” The stop has access to the Grotto Trail, the Kayenta Trail and the West Rim Trail.
Officials said Courtier had been scheduled to be picked up at 4:40 p.m. after her hike. But she did not arrive at the parking area for the return trip out of Zion. She was reported missing to park officials on October 8.
2. Courtier’s Daughter Said She Hit Her Head & Was Severely Dehydrated When Search Teams Found Her
The National Park Service announced on October 18 that Courtier had been found safely within the park and she was quickly reunited with her family. The news release did not mention whether Courtier had fallen or been otherwise injured during her initial hike. Officials did not provide additional details about where Courtier spent the last several days or whether she needed medical attention.
But Chambers later explained to CNN that her mother had hit her head early on into her hike and became “disoriented.” Chambers said Courtier became weaker as time went on due to lack of food and water; she did not drink the water from a nearby river due to concerns about whether it was toxic. She added Courtier became “so dehydrated she couldn’t open her mouth.”
Zion National Park listed all of the organizations that assisted in the search and thanked them for their service. The organizations included the “Washington County Sheriff’s Office, K-9 Units from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Utah Search Dogs Search and Rescue Teams, Grand Canyon National Park Emergency Service Team, Bryce Canyon National Park and Lake Mead National Recreation Area Park Rangers, and all the staff and volunteers that provided support for this search and rescue effort.”
During the search, Courtier’s daughter described her as an experienced hiker. Chambers told CBS Los Angeles that her mother had gone hiking alone before.
3. Chambers & Other Family Members Launched a Separate Search for Courtier
Chambers spoke to her mother on October 2, four days before Courtier went to Zion National Park, she told NBC Los Angeles. Chambers did not know which trail Courtier had planned to hike or where she had intended to go afterward.
Chambers and other family members traveled to Utah to conduct their own search after Courtier disappeared. Chambers told CBS Los Angeles on October 12, “I know she would not give up on me, so I refuse to give up on her. I don’t care if I’m the only person on the trail looking for her, I’m not going to stop until I find her.”
Chambers took to social media to plead for help from the public in order to keep the official search going. Two days before Courtier was found, Chambers shared that park rangers were using a drone to continue looking for Courtier. Chambers wrote at the time, “I put full faith in God that he will bring my mom home. Mom – we are going to find you we aren’t giving up.”
4. Courtier Planned to Visit All of the National Parks After Losing Her Job Due to the Coronavirus
Courtier worked as a nanny before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Chambers explained to Fox News that after her mother lost her job, she decided to take advantage of the extra time and travel around the country.
The goal was to “visit all the national parks and go hiking,” Chamber said. “She absolutely loves hiking and it’s one of her favorite things to do and when she needs clarity and to spend some time with herself, nature is her happy place.”
Chambers told the network Courtier had purchased a van several weeks ago. She planned to convert the interior into a livable space so that she could use it during her national travels.
Courtier is from southern California, according to her Facebook page. She wrote on the page that she attended Los Angeles Baptist High School in North Hills. She listed Agoura Hills in western Los Angeles County as her current city.
5. Courtier Was Found Thanks to a Tip From a Park Visitor
The National Park Service urged anyone who had visited Zion National Park and had been near the Grotto area on October 6 to come forward. The agency insisted in a social media message that any little bit of information could turn out to be relevant to the search. The NPS said that potential witnesses could also come forward anonymously.
That public outreach made the difference and resulted in Courtier’s safe recovery. The National Park Service said park rangers had received a tip from a visitor to the park who reported seeing Courtier. She was found in a “thickly vegetated area along the Virgin River,” Fox News reported.
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