An elderly couple have been found alive over a week after they went missing during a hike on Valentine’s Day, reportedly to watch the sunset.
Carol Kiparsky, aged 77, and Ian Irwin, aged 72, were discovered in a forest area in northern California with “slight hypothermia”, according to the county sheriff.
“In speaking with Carol and Ian, the reason they are most likely alive is because they were drinking from a puddle that they found near where they were located,” Brenton Schneider told local media.
The couple were airlifted out of the area and taken to hospital after their rescue.
They suffered ”extensive abrasions from the dense brush” during the ordeal but were in “amazing spirits”, according to their families.
A search was launched for the couple after they failed to check out of their holiday cottage in Inverness, near San Francisco, on 15 February.
“They went out on Valentines Day to look at the sunset,” Ms Kiparsky’s son told local station NBC Bay Area. “It got dark, they took a wrong turn and they found themselves in trouble.”
Their belongings – including a phone, vehicle and their wallets – were found in the B&B they were renting after they missed their checkout, according to the Marin county sheriff's office.
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. pic.twitter.com/t3OS6rgas7— Marin County Sheriff (@MarinSheriff)February 23, 2020
Rescuers began looking for the missing couple, who were presumed dead by authorities days before they were found.
“We believe that our extensive search efforts with every resource that has been available to us would have located Carol and Ian if they were responsive or in an area accessible by foot on land,” Marin County Sherif said on Thursday. “We are now calling this a recovery mission.”
The couple were found alive on Saturday.
Mr Irwin and Ms Kiparsky will be “forever grateful fo the hard work and dedication” of those involved in the search and rescue effort for them, their families said.
“They look forward to telling their story in time, but are asking for privacy until they are ready to tell the story of how they survived the unimaginable seven nights in the Inverness wilderness.”
The Marin county sheriff said it was a “miracle” that the couple had been found alive, according to Associated Press.