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Houston couple survives nearly a week in Utah without food and water

KANE COUNTY, UTAH – A couple from Houston, Texas, barely survived being stranded for six days with no food and very little to drink.  The Kane County Sheriff’s Office says the couple would not have survived another day.

Gerald and Helena Byler had planned to travel from Kanab to Lake Powell, but they got stuck on an extremely remote road near the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument after following their GPS.  The road was so rocky, pieces of their rental car kept breaking off as they drove.  There was even a sign on the road instructing drivers that they needed extra food, clothes and a four-wheel drive vehicle to continue.  Eventually, they got stuck in an area known as the Grand Bench.

(Credit: Kane County Search and Rescue)

After spending a night outdoors, Helena says they agreed she would hike for help.  She says, “I was not afraid.  I don’t know why I was not scared.  I knew that God was with me.”

The hike was grueling.  Investigators say she accidentally circled back to near the area where she left Gerald.  “I couldn’t recognize anything.  There was no hope,” she says.

Luckily for her, she found trailers along the way for shelter.  However, her body was so strained, she was having severe hallucinations.  Kane County Sheriff Tracy Glover says she actually had access to canned food and bottled water, but, her body wouldn’t let her reach it.  He says, “She was not able to get any of that food.  She recounts the story about being in what she thought was a marble building and that there were people in there, but, they wouldn’t let her hands get on the food.”

Helena was spotted by a rancher as she was laying on the Croton Road on October 2nd.  The man who found her, Dell LeFevre was checking on his cattle and was about to go home.  He had a choice of two roads, and took the one that led to Helena.  LeFevre says, “She put her arms up in the air and I knew she was in trouble. She was carrying a two-by-four.  She figured the Navajos had come out and the moon was going to get her, so I knew she was delusional.”  She also claimed she spoke with a 911 dispatcher, and she believed her husband was already rescued.  LeFevre knew that wasn’t true because rescuers wouldn’t have left her there.

Crews were able to ask her where the couple got stranded, originally.  Medical choppers were sent, and they spotted a faint SOS sign made of rocks and flowers.

(Credit: Kane County Search and Rescue)

Gerald says he remembered advice he saw while watching the rescue efforts during Hurricane Harvey.  He says, “Take out a white cloth, either a sheet or a towel, anything, and hang it outside so people can see it.”

Gerald had also found a trailer to provide shelter.  He was so dehydrated when he was found, he couldn’t move.  However, he had been rescued because of his wife.  He says, “She did a heck of a job.”

Kane County officials say Helena has already been discharged from the hospital, but, Gerald actually suffered a stroke during his ordeal.  He’s still recovering at Dixie Regional Hospital.

(Photo Credit: Ladd Egan: KSL TV, Twitter)