California couple in their 70s saved in 'miracle rescue' after missing for 8 days

The couple went out for a sunset walk on Valentine's Day and took one wrong turn in the dark.
/ Source: Today

A California couple who went missing while on a Valentine's Day hike has been found alive, and their rescue is being called a "miracle."

Carol Kiparsky, 77, and her husband, Ian Irwin, 72, were found on Saturday, February 22 near Tomales Bay in Northern California, a week after they disappeared while staying in a nearby rental cottage.

The couple was conscious but dehydrated when rescue crews discovered them in thick underbrush. They had been able to survive by drinking the puddle water surrounding them.

Sgt. Brenton Schneider told reporters, “This is a miracle.”

Described as “avid hikers,” Kiparsky and Irwin frequented the area north of Point Reyes National Seashore and were familiar with the local hiking trails. They had gone out on Valentine’s Day to see the sunset but found themselves in trouble when the light changed and they lost their way. They tried to find a path that would lead them back to the road but ended up in a thicket.

“It got dark and they took a wrong turn and they found themselves in trouble," said Jon Kiparsky, one of the couple's sons.

“My mother said ‘Oh, I lost a shoe and so I was walking with one shoe and then I lost the other shoe and then I kept walking in my socks,’” he added.

The couple was missing for a total of eight days without jackets. During the nights, the temperatures in that area can dip below the 30s, a dangerous scenario for the couple. Irwin also suffered from scratches after lying down on the rough terrain to help his wife.

"He was laying his body flat into that awful thorny crap with poison oak — you name it —so that Carol could go over him," their son Jonas Irwin explained.

Authorities became concerned when the couple did not check out of their cottage the weekend of February 15. Over the course of the eight days that they were missing, search and rescue efforts involved hundreds.

Rescuers heard the pair yelling for help on Saturday morning. Crews had to crawl on their stomachs, according to Schneider, in order to reach the couple in the thick of the brush.

"They were like, 'Thank god you found us, we’re so happy,'" said rescuer Quincy Webster.

The couple is expected to leave the hospital today after suffering from minor scratches.

The family of the couple is thankful for the search and rescue crews and everyone who shared their support throughout the recovery effort.