An elderly couple was rescued Saturday after they became lost while hiking in Marin County, California, on Valentine’s Day.
“The disappearance of Carol Kiparsky, 77, and Ian Irwin, 72, from their cottage near Chicken Ranch Beach had baffled the hundreds of searchers who had scoured the area for days. Their family had given up hope,” according to the Mercury News.
The couple, neither of whom were wearing jackets, had left their rental cottage at Point Reyes for an evening hike when they took a wrong turn, Kiparsky’s son, John, explained.
“They found themselves in trouble and they kept going. They were moving, trying to get to a road, trying to get to water, thinking water leads you to civilization,” he commented, adding, “And, as it happens, when they were found they were very close to a road but on the other side of a thicket.”
The couple heard rescue crews about half a mile from Pierce Point Road and began crying out for help from where they were stuck in a drainage ditch covered with thick vegetation.
A 3-year-old rescue dog named Groot was the first to make contact, according to volunteer Quincy Webster.
The couple was extremely happy to see the searchers, who gave them all the warm clothes they had and bottles of water.
“(Irwin) started singing a song when the helicopter came, and he still had a little sarcasm behind his voice, even then,” said Brenton Schneider, a spokesman for the Marin County Sheriff’s Office.
“It was an old Blues song called, ‘I’d rather drink muddy water, sleep in a hollow log’, which is kind of what they did,” John said, referring to the fact that the couple had survived for nearly a week by drinking from a puddle.
At the hospital, the two were treated for slight hypothermia, since temperatures had dropped into the 30s the last few nights they were missing in the woods.
“My dad is very scratched up,” Jonas Irwin noted.
“Because the brush was so intense in this area, he was laying his body flat into that awful thorny crap – with poison oak, you name it – so that Carol could go over him. That’s chivalry, right? I hope that’s still alive in the next generation,” he said.
At a press conference Saturday, Schneider called the couple’s survival a miracle because they did not think everything would turn out so well in the end.
“Their family members are ecstatic, to say the least,” he concluded.