Missing Elderly Hikers Lost in Calif. Forest Since Valentine's Day Are Found Alive

Authorities say that Carol Kiparsky, 77, and Ian Irwin, 72, are in "great spirits" and recovering at a local hospital

Ian Irwin and Carol Kiparsky
Photo: Marin County Sheriff's Office/Twitter

The search for a missing elderly couple who got lost in the forests of Northern California ended with both being found alive, according to authorities.

On Saturday, the Marin County Sheriff’s Office announced that search teams had finally located both Carol Kiparsky, 77, and Ian Irwin, 72, who were last seen on Feb. 14 in Inverness, California, at a vacation cottage they had rented for Valentine’s Day.

“We’ve found Carol and Ian alive. We are working to extract them from the area using @MarinSAR @sonomasheriff Henry 1,” the sheriff’s office shared on Twitter.

An hour later, they shared an update: “Carol and Ian are on their way to a local hospital. Both were extracted by @sonomasheriff helicopter and@MarinSAR@marincountyfire.”

Quincy Webster, a volunteer with Marin County Search and Rescue, said that he and another volunteer, Rich Cassens, were out searching when they heard the couple calling for help.

“At first we thought it was another team, but they started yelling ‘Help.’ We looked at each other and were like, ‘That’s them!’ ” Webster said during a news conference after the rescue, CNN reported. “They were like, ‘Thank God you found us.’ ”

Sgt. Brenton Schneider of the Marin County Sheriff’s Office told reporters that both Kiparsky and Irwin suffered from hypothermia and neither had eaten in more than a week but were able to stay alive because “they were drinking from a puddle,” according to CNN.

Schneider added that Kiparsky and Irwin’s family is “ecstatic to say the least.”

The sheriff’s office shared an additional update once the pair were recovering at the hospital, writing, “Update from Carol Kiparsky and Ian Irwin. They are in great spirits and want to thank every single person who has kept them in their thoughts. On behalf of the Irwin and Kiparsky family, Thank You.”

Their rescue is celebrated by many as days earlier authorities declared that their search was turned into a “recovery mission,” meaning that authorities presumed the couple was dead.

According to Schneider, the couple had “left for a hike on Valentine’s [Day], they got lost in the dark and they don’t know what happened after that.” They were reportedly found in “a very dense drainage that was overgrown with foliage.”

“Carol and Ian’s survival is a miracle,” Schneider said at the news conference, according to CNN. “Based on how they were found and how dense the vegetation was that they were in, I don’t think they could have made it without this group of people.”

Schneider also said 500 people, helicopters and K-9 teams were involved in the search and rescue.

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