TWIN FALLS, Idaho -- Never give up. Never lose your faith. Miracles happen. Never underestimate that, said Raymond Chretien. His mother was found alive after 48 days in the wilderness.She wastaken to a Twin Falls hospital where she is in surprisingly fair condition.
Family members say Rita Chretien and her husband, Albert, wanted to take the scenic route as they were on their way from Canada to Las Vegas. But after getting lost and stuck, that scenic route turned into a life-changing ordeal that lasted 48 days for Rita.
The map led them to believe, rightly or wrongly, that the road was a much safer road than it was, said Raymond Chretien.
That road turned out to be not much more than some tire tracks in the mountains of northern Nevada. Rita and Albert Chretien got stuck miles from civilization. After three days, Albert set out for help.
They were clearly out in the middle of nowhere, said Raymond Chretien. I know my father.He wanted to get help, and he had about 27 miles to go, maybe a three-day trek to find help.
Albert didn't find help, and the search for him continues.
Rita never left the area around the van. For 48 days, she waited and made due with limited supplies.
She had a small amount of trail mix that lasted a week, a tablespoon a day, said Raymond Chretien. A couple fish oil pills a day, and a hard candy a day, and the melted snow and water she got from the stream or mud puddle or whatever it was; that's what kept her going. She's a Christian, she reads her Bible every day. She had books she was reading, she had time to think and pray.
Rita tried to start a fire a few times, but everything was just too wet.
While waiting for rescue, she said a favorite scripture of hers was Psalm 86. The 2nd verse reads, Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you -- you are my God.
She definitely had hope, but of course, just like with us, every day that goes by, you start preparing yourself for both options, said Raymond Chretien.
Her doctor, James Westberry, said she didn't have much time left.
Maybe a few days, maybe not much more than that, Westberry said. She was definitely getting somewhat toward the end.
On May 5, Rita said she had an epiphany.
She had a very clear indication that there would be something on Friday, whether it was to go home to be with her savior, or to be rescued, and it was to be rescued, said her son.
On Friday, May 6, Rita said she heard a noise.Peering out of the van,shesaw something she hadn't insix weeks: another person. In fact, it wastwo hunters on ATVs.
I don't think they realized who she was, and she had no idea that people would even know who she was, said Raymond Chretien. She convinced them that she needed help, and they went and got help.
Forty-eight days of being stranded in the desolate high desert of Nevada wasn't enough to overcome Chretien or her family's hope.
When asked if she ever gave up hope, Jennifer Chretien (Rita's daughter-in-law) said, No, not entirely. Rationally, parts of you let go a little, but not entirely, no. 'Cause we know that God does work miracles.
This situation has been an extremely emotional one for the Chretien family.
While grateful to be reunited with Rita on this Mother s Day, their thoughts and prayers are still with Albert.
When Raymond Chretien got the call Friday that his mother was alive, he was in disbelief.
How can you prepare yourself for that? There's just no way. It s sort of one of those times in life where you just play the cards you're dealt and you just don't know what to do until it happens, said Raymond Chretien.
He and his wife quickly made his way across the border to see her.
There was a lot of laughter. It was a lot of fun. It's so good to see her in such good shape, said Raymond Chretien.
To be reunited this weekend makes it an unforgettable Mother s Day.
No one was sure it would happen.
Raymond said as his mother sat in her van day after day, week after week, she passed the time with walks, reading and re-reading books and the Bible.
He said at one point, his mother began to write her thoughts in a journal, should she never see her loved ones again.
But now that they've seen each other, he says he likely won't read it for some time.
We were praying for a miracle and boy, did we get one. We got the biggest miracle we could've ever asked for. And there's still one more to come in so we're still praying for another one and the search continues for my father, said Raymond Chretien.
While Rita recovers, search crews continue to look her husband Albert.
So far, there have been no signs of the 59 year old man.
Albert is 5 6 tall and weighs 175 lbs.
He has brown hair and blue eyes.
He was last seen at the Humboldt National Forest in northern Nevada.