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48 Days Alone in The Nevada Wilderness—The Miraculous Survival of Rita Chretien

From Penticton to Nevada Wilderness

By Rare StoriesPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 3 min read

Rita Chretien and her husband, Albert Chretien were going to Las Vegas for a trade show when the GPS they were using steered them in the wrong direction.

Albert ended up dead while Rita wandered alone in the Nevada wilderness for 48 days before she was found alive.

The Beginning

59-year-old Albert and 56-year-old Rita Chretien from Penticton, British Columbia, Canada, who were in the commercial excavation business left their home on March 19, 2011, for a trade show in Las Vegas. They reached Baker City in eastern Oregon that afternoon.

The last sighting of the couple before they were declared missing was on a store's surveillance camera in Oregon.

As they made their way to Las Vegas, the GPS they were using steered them in the wrong direction. Their van got stuck on a snowy logging road in North Easter Nevada. They had no phone signal, and no help was close by.

the couple's van can be seen, the one on the right

The couple waited for three days before Albert decided to go get help on March 22. He left with the GPS unit they were using but he never returned. Rita waited for days before setting off on her own. But before she left, she left a note.

"Please help. Stuck since Mar 19/11. No food, no gas, dead bat(battery), lost my way. Al went to get help. Find Mountain City. Did not return. Maybe died along the way!"

The couple were reported missing on March 30 after they failed to return.

Rita Chretien left this note before she left their van.

For the next 48 days, Rita stayed in the wilderness of Nevada with minimal supplies. She survived on some candies, trail mix, and snow until she was rescued by some hunters.

Rita survived several adverse weather conditions like snow, rain, and sub-zero temperatures. By the time she was found, she had lost about 20 to 30 pounds of her body weight.

The van was discovered at the border between the national forest and Bureau of Land Management land, approximately five miles south of the state line. This location marks the meeting point of Idaho's high desert and Nevada's snow-capped Independence Mountains.

The couple was last seen on a surveillance camera

Elko County Sheriff's Department considered her survival a miracle but quickly shifted their mind to finding the woman's husband.

The Monday following the discovery of Rita, the search for her husband was started. The search team diligently combed through canyons and mountainsides. "it is possible that he sought refuge in an abandoned mine or a dilapidated cabin." they hoped.

Finding Albert

The remains of Albert Chretien were found on September 29, 2012, more than a year after he went missing.

Two hunters came across his remains in a wooded area in Northern Elko County. Albert's remains were found in a location about 11 kilometers away from where the van got stuck. Officials speculated that the battery of the GPS unit he was using ran out as the location where his remains were found showed that he was headed in the wrong direction.

"Where he made it to was far beyond what he was equipped for. This man had tremendous courage and inner strength to get where he was!" Elko County Sheriff's Deputy stated.

The hunters who were familiar with the story first discovered a backpack that Albert was carrying when he set off to get help. The bag contained a pen, a spiral notebook, and sunflower seeds.

Albert and Rita

The family was heartbroken to learn about the discovery of Albert's body, but they were still grateful that closure was provided. The exact location where Albert's body was found was kept a secret as per the family's wish.

The family made plans for his body to be returned home for a proper burial.


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WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS: 20 Most Shocking True Crime Stories of Miscarriage of Justice

WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS: 20 Most Shocking True Crime Stories of Miscarriage of Justice


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  • Toby Heward2 months ago

    Kinda sad but a good story

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