Home News Holly Courtier’s sister pushes back against questions about Zion National Park rescue

Holly Courtier’s sister pushes back against questions about Zion National Park rescue



Holly Suzanne Courtier’s sister on Thursday said it’s a “miracle” the California mom survived in Zion National Park for 12 days with no food or water — after rescue officials raised questions about her story.

Courtier, 38, was not in a good mental state when she took off on what was supposed to be a one to two day trip in the Utah park Oct. 6, for “a journey of fasting” and to disconnect from technology, her sister, Jaime Strong, told NBC’s “TODAY.”

“I really think she had a mental breakdown and was not in the right state of mind when she decided to take this journey and not tell people where she was going.”

Once in the park, Courtier, who is a seasoned hiker, apparently suffered a concussion and became dehydrated, causing her to get disoriented, her sister said.

“I think God got her through this,” Strong said. “I think it’s a miracle. I truly believe there is no reason she should be alive. It doesn’t make sense. She didn’t have the proper gear, and she didn’t have food or water.”

While Courtier’s daughter, Kailey Chambers, recently told NBC News that her mom ended up near a river — Strong said that she didn’t drink from it other than wetting her lips and spitting the water back out.

“She said she didn’t have anything to drink at all,” Strong said. “She was very well aware of the toxins in the river.”

Strong’s statements about the river appeared to be in response to questions raised by Washington County Sgt. Darrell Cashin, the liaison of the search and rescue team that helped find Courtier on Sunday, a half-mile away from the parking lot where she was last seen.

Cashin told ABC4Utah that had Courtier drank out of the river, she would have fallen very sick and could have died.

The sergeant said he found other discrepancies in Courtier’s story, including that she suffered a serious head injury as she reported, because paramedics saw no sign of trauma and did not hospitalize the woman.

Cashin also told the station that Courtier should have heard rescue workers and seen other hikers in the relatively well-traveled area.

However, Strong said that at one point, her sister did see another person nearby — but was so dehydrated, she couldn’t open her mouth and call for help.

She kept track of the days by tallying them up in black Sharpie on a tree, according to a photo provided to “TODAY.”

When she was found, Courtier had lost between 15 and 18 pounds after not eating or drinking in the park, and also fasting for two days before the trip, Strong said.

“I.. saw how emaciated she was, I lost it,” Strong said. “It was like seeing someone who had aged 30 years in 12 days. It was horrific, but at that point I was so happy to see her it didn’t matter.”

The National Park Service had said that Courtier was able to “leave of her own capability with minimal assistance” after being found — a statement that Strong disputed, chalking up her sister’s energy to a burst of adrenaline.

“It’s just so blown blown out of proportion,” she said.

Courtier has since checked herself into a mental wellness center, her sister said. She had lost her job as a nanny during the pandemic when she decided to embark on her National Parks journey.

“She has definitely been through some trauma over the past several years,” Strong said. “I don’t think she’s properly dealt with it and gotten the proper help for it, and now is the time.”

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