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Couple rescued after surviving six days in Utah mountains

October 13, 2017 - 4:04 pm

(PANGUITCH, Utah) -- A Texas couple has been rescued after surviving six days in the mountains in Utah, authorities said.

On Oct. 2, Panguitch, Utah, resident Dell LeFevre came across 78-year-old Helena Byler in distress at the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument while there to check on his cattle, according to the Kane County Sheriff's Office.

Byler of Houston was "severely dehydrated and confused," police said. LeFevre then alerted dispatchers and help transport her to the care of first responders, according to the sheriff's office.

After having some food and water, Byler was able to recall some details of what had happened to her, authorities said. She said that she and her husband, 76-year-old Gerald Byler, left their motel on the morning of Sept. 26 for a day trip to Lake Powell.

When the couple had not returned to their room the next day, the motel reported them as overdue, police said.

It was speculated that her husband must still be near the Kia rental car they had been driving. The ordeal began after they could no longer drive the car due to the road conditions, so they attempted to walk up the road on foot. After it became dark, the couple spent the night in the rain, she said. The next morning, her husband could not walk any further, so she left him to get help.

LeVerne found her five days later, police said.

Helicopter crews found the rental car near an "SOS" sign made out of rocks and flowers, but Gerald Byler was not there, according to the sheriff's department. Search and rescue crews found him "very dehydrated and unable to move" inside an old trailer near a corral about half a mile up the road.

Gerald Byler was transported to the hospital via helicopter.

It appears that Helena Byler had to spend a couple nights another trailer near the corral, not knowing that her husband was also nearby, police said. She said she drank water from puddles, authorities said.

Gerald Byler remained hospitalized a week after the couple was discovered. He and his wife are both expected to make a full recovery and return home to Texas soon, the sheriff's office said.

Kane County Chief Deputy Alan Alldredge said that the cooler weather, LeFevre and the first responders made it possible for the couple to be rescued.

"One more day would probably have resulted in a very different outcome," Alldredge said.

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