A Palo Alto couple rescued Saturday after spending almost eight days stranded in dense vegetation in Marin County about a half-mile from their Inverness rental cabin were reported in “great spirits” Saturday afternoon, about six hours after they were found, the Marin County Sheriff’s Office said.
The Sheriff’s Office released photos of Carol Kiparsky, 77, and her husband Ian Irwin, 72, in their hospital beds. Kiparsky was showing a “thumbs up” sign.
In a tweet less than three hours after a 10:10 a.m. news conference announcing the couple had been found in thick underbrush in a drainage area near Tomales Bay, the Sheriff’s Office said:
“They are in great spirits and want to thank every single person who has kept them in their thoughts.”
Quincy Webster, a volunteer with Marin Search and Rescue, said during the news conference:
“They heard us searching, they heard us talking and they yelled out for help.”
He said that, when he reached the couple, they said:
“Thank God you found us, we’re so happy.”
Marin County Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Brenton Schneider said that, after law enforcement officials were told Kiparsky and Irwin were alive, it was “controlled chaos.”
“We wanted to get as many people to them as we could.”
Schneider said the couple — who had no food, water or cell phones with them on their Feb. 14 hike near their rental cabin — most likely survived the week by drinking water from a puddle near where they were stranded.
They were found in vegetation so thick that rescuers had to crawl to get to them, said Schneider. The couple were in an “implausible” place, he said, and that it was difficult for rescuers to get through that undergrowth.
That dense undergrowth made it extremely difficult to carry the couple out any way other than by helicopter. A Sonoma County Sheriff’s helicopter crew pulled the two seniors from the brush and got them to a nearby hospital.
“(Ian) started singing a song when the helicopter came.”
Kiparsky and Irwin both suffered mild hypothermia, said Schneider, as they had been dressed in relatively light clothing and had to endure overnight temperatures that dipped into the 30s.
The couple’s disappearance sparked a large search and rescue effort involving hundreds of people. About 70 searchers were in the area when the couple was located, Webster said.
At Saturday’s news conference, at least two dozen members of Marin Search and Rescue and others who had helped with the search stood behind Schneider. Just a day earlier, the search had been described as a “recovery effort,” as hopes for the couple’s survival had waned.
Schneider, who called finding Kiparsky and Irwin alive “a miracle,” said:
“Regardless of what we called it, the people standing behind me kept doing what they do.”