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Zion hiker's rescue leaves unanswered questions; circumstances 'do not add up' says sheriff's sgt.

Posted at 9:10 AM, Oct 22, 2020

A sergeant involved in the search for a missing hiker in Zion National Park says there are several discrepancies he sees in the case of her 12-day survival in the park.

Holly Courtier went missing while hiking in the park on October 6. A rescue effort involving the national park’s team and others, including K-9 teams and trained investigators, found Courtier on October 18 after a credible tip of a possible sighting.

Her family said Courtier hit her head, became disoriented, and was able to stay near a “water source” in the park.

In an interview with ABC4 in Salt Lake City, Sgt. Darrell Cashin says he finds some “discrepancies and questions that do not add up.”

Cashin is a liaison with Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, a job he’s had for about nine years, in addition he says he has 25 years experience on search and rescue teams.

One thing he says didn’t add up was the water source. Park officials say Courtier was found along the Virgin River, but Cashin says that river was likely not drinkable or at least would have caused her to get sick.

In August, Zion National Park officials sent out a warning to all visitors to avoid contact with the Virgin River “until further notice” because of levels of cyanobacteria from a toxic algal bloom.

“If she 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,” Cashin told ABC4. “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.”

CNN reportsthe family told them Courtier was only able to take a few steps before collapsing. However, Zion National Park officials report she was able to walk out of the park on her own with minimal assistance. She was taken to a nearby hospital to be checked out and stayed the night.

In the interview with CNN, Courtier’s family does not clarify if the water source was potable, but they did say Courtier was without food while she was lost in the park.

Cashin alleges there are also questions about her decision to go on the hike. Courtier allegedly left her California home in the middle of the night and did not tell her family where she was going, according to Cashin.