Rescued Hiker Who Was Missing for 2 Weeks Hit Her Head On a Tree and Became 'Very Disoriented,' Daughter Says
Holly Courtier — the California woman who went missing at Zion National Park in Utah for nearly two weeks before her rescue — had suffered a head injury early on in her hike, causing her to be too disoriented to seek help, according to her family.
"Early in her trip into Zion, she injured her head on a tree," Courtier's daughter, Kailey Chambers, tells PEOPLE in a statement on Monday. "She was very disoriented as a result and thankfully ended up near a water source — a river bed. She thought her best chance of survival was to stay next to a water source. We are so grateful for that and grateful for the people who located her."
"She was too weak and disoriented to actively seek out help," Chambers says of her mother. "She was without food the entire time in Zion. She was unable to take more than a step or two without collapsing. This prevented her from being able to seek out help. She told me she was so dehydrated she couldn't open her mouth."
Courtier was first reported missing on Oct. 6. The hiker did not make it to her return shuttle after she was dropped off at the Grotto parking area that afternoon, according to the National Park Service.
On Sunday, park officials confirmed that search and rescue crews had found Courtier after receiving a "credible tip from a park visitor that they had seen Courtier within the park."
In her statement to PEOPLE, Chambers says Courtier has been "getting her strength back and hydrating" since her rescue.
"She is still weak but recovering. She has been getting fluids because she was extremely dehydrated. And we are slowly introducing foods. Her health remains our top priority," Chambers says.
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"We appreciate the public outpour of support and are grateful to everyone who helped find her," she adds. "We will continue to focus on her health and will update everyone when possible."
Prior to Courtier's disappearance, the mother-daughter duo had been to the park together two weeks earlier to celebrate Chambers' 19th birthday. They both fell in love with the serene surroundings,and the peace it offered from the outside world.
"One of the last people who saw her said she had the biggest smile on her face and was saying how excited she was to get on the trails," Chambers previously told PEOPLE. "The park has such a special place in her heart."