'Mother's Day Miracle': Missing woman found alive in Nevada forest

'Mother's Day Miracle': Missing woman found alive in Nevada forest
ELKO COUNTY, Nevada - One of two Canadians missing for several weeks has been located alive in Nevada.

Albert and Rita Chretien had last been seen on March 19 buying gas in Baker City, Oregon.

Elko County sheriff's detective Sgt. Kevin McKinney tells the
Elko Daily Free Press that a couple on four-wheelers spotted the
Chretiens' van in a ravine near the Humboldt National Forest.

"She was conscious and able to speak to her rescuers," says Corporal Dan Moskaluk with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. "She relayed that they became stuck on this forest service road on March 19th."

Oregon State Police say hunters found Rita Chretien, 56, inside the couple's 2000 Chevrolet Astro van on a logging road in a remote area of Elko County.

Heavy rains and snows over the winter had caused flooding on the Bruneau River and that the roads in the area were extremely muddy, which caused the van to get stuck.

Rita has been airlifted to a Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls, Idaho and she is listed in Fair condition.

"It's nothing short of a miracle," Lorraine Hoving, who is Albert Chretien's sister. She said her nephew has talked to Rita in the hospital: "She was coherent and kind of in a weakened state; doctors said she's lost 20-30 pounds."

Rita told rescuers that she survived for over a month on almost nothing.

"Her family said she lived off water and small amounts of trail mix," Moskaluk told The Associated Press.

She told officials that she was able to get water from snow and a nearby creek.

OSP believes Albert Chretien, 59, left the van on foot over a month ago on March 22nd. He hasn't been located yet.

Hoving said she's not sure how the Chretiens ended up in such a remote part of Nevada.

"My brother is kind of curious and liked to take a scenic route," she said. "I don't know whether their GPS took them that way-- they had a brand new GPS and they were playing around with that -- but Rita said he wanted to go on a scenic route."

Nevada authorities are now mounting a ground and aerial search around the area for Albert Chretien.

"When you have hope, that makes you hang on," Hoving said. "So we're going to hang on to the hope that Albert is out there."

In the meantime, the entire family is heading to Idaho to meet up with Rita.

"It's a Mother's Day miracle for the boys; they get their mother back," Hoving said. "And we'll all be together on Mother's Day."

The two were reported missing March 31 when they failed to return home to British Columbia from a business trip.

Rescuers continue to search for Albert by ground and air.

"It's bittersweet," says Moskaluk. "But on one hand, it still is tremendous news to find them first of all, and one of them alive."

KBOI 2News is working to get more details about this story, and will bring you updates as they become available.