Sister of Woman Found After 12 Days in Zion National Park Says Sibling Was on a 'Journey of Fasting'
The sister of the woman who went missing in Zion National Park for 12 days is speaking out.
Holly Courtier, 38, was found alive after she was missing for nearly two weeks on Sunday, PEOPLE previously reported.
Courtier's older sister, Jaime Strong, 41, spoke with Today on Thursday, calling her sister's discovery a "miracle."
"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."
Courtier's family previously said that she had holed up near a river bed, and Strong clarified in the Today interview that Courtier did not use the river as a source of drinking water.
"She was very well aware of the toxins in the river," Strong said. "There was a statement made that she said she set up camp because she wanted to stay close to the river, but we were never implying that she drank the water."
Authorities have questioned the family's account of how Courtier survived the ordeal.
Sgt. Darrell Cashin of the Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue previously told local station ABC4 that if Courtier "had been drinking that water, unless she had some really high immune system, she would’ve been very, very ill and probably unable to come out on her own."
"She either took a lot of water with her or had another clean water source that was near here, but the Virgin River is not that source," Cashin said.
Strong said Thursday that Courtier "said she didn't have anything to drink at all," and said that the story of her sister's ordeal has been "twisted."
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"She was very scared and traumatized, and she wanted to leave the park in my car with me and my husband and her daughter, and we drove her straight to the emergency room, so things have just been twisted," she told Today.
Strong added that she didn't think her sister was in a good "mental state" when she entered the park for a two or three day "journey of fasting," and hadn't eaten for a few days before entering the park.
"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," Strong said of Courtier, who has since checked into a mental wellness facility.
Strong described Courtier as "emaciated" after 12 days in the wilderness and lost between 15 and 18 lbs. "It was like seeing someone who had aged 30 years in 12 days," she said. "It was horrific, but at that point I was so happy to see her it didn't matter."
Strong said that while the National Park Service said her sister was able to "leave of her own capability with minimal assistance," Courtier was driven at that point by the excitement of being rescued.
"It's just so blown out of proportion," said Strong. "When you think you're going to die and you see a ranger, she said she literally got like giddy inside because she knew she was going to see her daughter and her family, so you definitely have some adrenaline working for you at that point."
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