Sister of woman found after 12 days lost in Zion National Park speaks out

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ZION NATIONAL PARK, Utah (ABC4 News, ABC News) – The sister of a woman found after being lost in Zion National Park for nearly two weeks is speaking out.

Jillian Courtier-Oliver, one of Holly Suzanne Courtier’s four sisters, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” after the rescue that bringing Courtier home was her “only goal” from the moment she went missing — but in the past few days, she had started to lose hope.

Courtier-Oliver said she went out on the day she disappeared to look for her sister, but after “hanging on the edge of a cliff” and hiking in extreme conditions, she thought: “How could she live through this?”

“Basically they said today or Monday was going to be the last day that rangers could be involved and help us,” Courtier-Oliver said Sunday.

“It wasn’t until two days ago I actually said, ‘I’m starting to lose hope,'” she said. “They had a lot of cadaver dogs out and I knew what they were looking for was a body, not a person. It was the first time I actually started losing hope. And I went with up with so much help knowing that we needed to find her.”

Holly Courtier, 38, was dropped off by a private shuttle bus on October 6 at the Grotto parking area at 1:30 p.m. She was to be picked up later that afternoon around 4:40 p.m. but she did not return.

Rescuers found Courtier’s vehicle in an adjacent town at the beginning of the search. She had left her phone in California, according to park officials.

Courtier, a nature lover and experienced hiker was familiar with Zion National Park. Her daughter, 19-year-old Kailey Chambers, told ABC Los Angeles station KABC that Courtier recently lost her job due to the COVID-19 pandemic and bought a van to travel to national parks across the U.S.

“My mom is one of the most selfless and loving people I know and I just want her to come home,” Chambers told KABC. “We’re looking for you and we’re going to find you. Don’t give up on us.” 

After 12 days someone told rangers they had seen Courtier inside the park. When search crews finally found her, she had lost a lot of weight and had “bruises all over her body.”

The family released the following statement on Sunday:

“We are overjoyed that she was found safe today. We would like to thank the rangers and search teams who relentlessly looked for her day and night and never gave up hope,” Courier’s family said in a statement. “We are also so grateful to the countless volunteers who were generous with their time, resources, and support. This wouldn’t have been possible without the network of people who came together.”

Courier left the park with her family and is now home recovering.

“I knew if anyone could do it, it was going to be her,” Courtier-Oliver added. “She’s such a fighter.”

Zion National Park issued additional statement Monday evening regarding her rescue.

“The National Park Service is delighted in being able to re-unite Ms. Courtier with her family following a successful search in Zion National Park, which concluded on October 18 after she was reporting missing 10 days previously,” the statement said.

“Based upon a credible tip, Law Enforcement Officers found her in a thickly vegetated area along the Virgin River. She was able to leave of her own capability with minimal assistance.”

Park officials advise visitors to leave an itinerary with friends or family, outlining any planned hikes or outings, before heading into the parks.

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