Elderly Texas couple found after being lost for week in Utah wilderness

"SOS" message from elderly Texas couple that was stranded in Utah desert for a week (KTVX Photo)
"SOS" message from elderly Texas couple that was stranded in Utah desert for a week (KTVX Photo)

KANE COUNTY, Utah (KTVX) — A day trip to the lake turned into a story of survival for an elderly Texas couple visiting Utah.

When a rancher saw an elderly woman laying on the road he wasn’t sure what to think. Dell LeFevere was on Croton Road checking on cattle he has at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument when he spotted the woman. He immediately called police and headed to meet with officers to get the woman to the hospital as soon as possible.

Police say 78-year-old Helena Byler of Houston was severely dehydrated and confused. After having some food and water Byler told them she and her husband, Gerald Byler, 76, were staying at a motel in Kanab when they took off on the morning of Sept. 26 for a day trip to Lake Powell. They were found on Oct. 2.

Crews immediately began searching for Gerald. “A helicopter crew discovered an SOS sign made out of rocks and flowers at the junction of the Croton and Grand Bench Roads,” officials said.

They searched all around the area and eventually found the rental car the couple had been driving. Gerald was not in the car. “They worked their way back up the road about a half-mile where there was a couple of old trailers near a corral,” officials report.

Gerald was found inside one of the trailers still alive. The helicopter transported him to Dixie Regional Medical Center and he was placed in the ICU. As of Monday, Oct. 9, police said Gerald is still in the hospital but is improving.

Chief Deputy Alan Alldredge with Kane County Sheriff’s Office said everything seemed to fall into place during the search.

“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 LeFevre making the choice to use the road he did, to the cooler weather, and to the assistance of Classic Air Medical. One more day would probably have resulted in a very different outcome.”

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