PENTICTON — The wife of an Okanagan man whose remains were found in the Nevada wilderness a year and a half after he went for help says she’s grateful he trekked through deep snow for kilometres in an effort to save her.
Rita Chretien said Tuesday that Albert Chretien hiked a great distance for her sake after their van got stuck in the mud on their way to Las Vegas from their home in Penticton.
Chretien, who survived for seven weeks on
her own in the van before she was found, said she’d tell her husband: “’Thank you for your efforts.’ ”I know he did it for me and I was so grateful.“
Chretien’s body was found Saturday by elk hunters in Merritt Mountain in Nevada after they discovered his backpack. Police identified him through items in his pocket.
Deputy David Prall of the Elko County Sheriff’s Office said Chretien had hiked more than 14 kilometres on a winding route and was within 10 kilometres of the community of Mountain City when the battery in the GPS he was using probably burned out and his path began to angle too far north.
“Once he lost the ability to use that GPS, due to the snow drifts, he couldn’t tell where the road was,” Prall said. “He did a lot of unnecessary climbing. He was heading literally for the summit of the mountain.”
Chretien may have made it to the highway had he kept his bearings, Prall said.
Henry Chretien said his younger brother’s body was found under a tree.
“He had placed his backpack where it could be seen. He lay down and under the protection of the tree for a much-needed rest and died peacefully in his sleep.”
Chretien’s clothed skeleton was intact and his blanket and other possessions were with him.
“We conclude that he was not attacked before or after his death by mountain lions or other predators,” Henry Chretien said. “This brings us comfort. We had long concluded that Albert was in heaven already. We now have more insight into his last day here. We now have comfort and closure to this chapter in our lives.”
On Sept. 23, Chretien’s wife and four others returned from a nine-day trip to Nevada, where they thanked people who’d helped in the many searches for the lost Canadian and prayed for him.
Rita Chretien said searchers answered her many questions and she answered theirs. Many of them expressed the need to find
Chretien’s remains because they felt their missions were incomplete and they needed closure.
Six days later, Chretien’s body was found.
— The Canadian Press