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Stranded Six Days in Kane County

Stranded Six Days in Kane County
October 14
16:26 2017

Saved!

A man visiting from Panguich, and rocks and flowers spelling “SOS,” evidently may have saved the lives of a Texas couple stranded for six days in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

The couple was identified by the Kane County Sheriff’s Office as 76-year old Gerald Byler and his 78-year old wife, Helena. They had planned a simple drive to Lake Powell from Kanab but ran into trouble when their rental car broke down.

On Monday October 2nd a Panguich resident found Mrs. Byler lying in the road, severely dehydrated. The Panguich man called 9-1-1 and an ambulance eventually took the elderly woman from Big Water to Kane County Hospital in Kanab, sixty miles away.

The woman explained to deputies that they had been using GPS-type apparatus to guide them to Lake Powell. At some point she became separated from her husband, but when telling deputies she didn’t remember how they ended up apart.

Photos: Kane County Sheriff’s Office

She was able to remember the name of a road they had been on, and that led to crew members in a Classic Air helicopter out of Page seeing the SOS that Mr. Byler had created. The SOS was near the intersection of Croton & Grand Bench Road. The man was found in a nearby trailer.

Mr. Byler was flown by Classic Air to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George where he was initially listed in critical condition. Since that time his condition has reportedly improved to “fair.”

Mrs. Byler has been released from the hospital.

 

BELOW IS THE FULL REPORT FROM THE KANE COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

 

Press Release:

By: Alan Alldredge

Chief Deputy

Kane County Sheriff’s Office

 

Elderly couple spends six days in Grand Staircase Monument

On the early afternoon of Monday October 2, 2017, Dell LeFevre of Panguitch, Utah encountered an elderly female laying on the Croton Road in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.  Mr. LeFevre has cattle on the monument and was checking on them when he located Helena Byler, 78, of Houston Texas.  Helena was severely dehydrated and confused about what had taken place.  After contacting a dispatch center, Mr. LeFevre transported Mrs. Byler South towards Big Water on the Smokey Mountain Road where he met with a Kane County Sheriff’s Deputy that had been dispatched to meet them.  The deputy then provided transport to the Kane County Hospital.

While traveling to the hospital and after having some food and water, Helena was able to remember some details of what happened to her.  She stated that her and her husband, Gerald Byler,76, had left their motel in Kanab Tuesday Morning September 26th for a day trip to see Lake Powell.  She indicated they were using a GPS device.  When they had not returned by Wednesday Morning, the motel reported them as overdue.  It was determined that her husband must still be with their car.  The couple were driving a KIA rental car which had become undriveable because of the condition of the road they were on.  Helena remembered something about being on Grand Bench Road which would have been to the east of where she was found.

Another Kane County Deputy was dispatched to the area to try and locate the vehicle.  Classic Aviation was also contacted and they dispatched a medical helicopter out of Page, Arizona to search for the car and Mr. Byler.  The helicopter crew discovered an SOS sign made out of rocks and flowers at the junction of the Croton and Grand Bench Roads.   They then flew east following the Grand Bench Road locating the vehicle about 3 miles from the SOS sign at Croton/Grand Bench junction.  They landed near the car but did not find Gerald with the car.  They worked their way back up the road about a half mile where there were a couple of old trailers near a corral.  They found Gerald in one of the trailers still alive, but like Helena he was very dehydrated and unable to move.  The helicopter transported Mr. Byler to Dixie Regional Medical Center where he was immediately put into ICU.  Helena spent one night in Kane County Hospital and after being discharged, was transported to St. George to be with her husband.

Helena indicated that after they could go no further in the car, they began walking back up the road.  It got dark on them and they spent Tuesday night out in the rain.  Wednesday Morning, she left Gerald who couldn’t walk any further to get help.  It was 5 days later that she was found by Mr. LeFevre.  She recounts stories of talking to dispatchers on the phone, a helicopter coming to pick up her husband, and tales of being in granite buildings and seeing other people who would not talk to her or help her.  It appears she may have spent a couple of days in one of the old trailers not knowing that her husband was in another one nearby.   The days without food and water had caused her to see and hear things that were not real, even after being released from the hospital, those experiences were very real and vivid to her.  She said she did drink water from puddles when she found some.

Thanks to all those who had a part in this incident.  Many little things fell into place that allowed the Bylers to be located alive.  From Mr. LeFevre making the choice to use the road he did, to the cooler weather, to the assistance of Classic Aviation.  One more day would probably have resulted in a very different outcome.

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