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The Globe and Mail

B.C. woman stranded in wild leaves hospital

Canadian couple Albert and Rita Chretien are seen in this Royal Canadian Mounted Police photo released to Reuters on May 7, 2011.


The prayers that kept a Penticton, B.C. woman going as she waited 49 days to be rescued after getting lost in the Nevada mountains were praised during Sunday church services.

The congregation had a chance to reflect on the incredible story of Rita Chretien, who has been released from hospital, according to her pastor, Neil Allenbrand.

"Each day she was in hospital, I spent some time with her," Mr. Allenbrand said in an interview outside the Church of the Nazarene in the Southern Interior town. "She's been out of the hospital now for a day."

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Health continues to improve for the 56-year-old Ms. Chretien who survived in the wilderness on just a few snacks and melted snow.

Ms. Chretien was found by hunters earlier this month hunkered down in a mud-stuck van, emaciated and malnourished. Mr. Allenbrand said she is now in good spirits and more concerned about her family and friends than herself.

The congregation had been praying for the woman to get better, and especially for her husband, who is still missing in the Nevada back country.

Members of 59-year-old Albert Chretien's family attended the Sunday services.

Up to 50 people were conducting an intensified search this weekend in the northeastern corner of Nevada for the missing man, who set out to get help a few days after the couple became stranded. They were driving to Las Vegas on a business trip when their GPS device led them astray.

Mr. Allenbrand would not say where Ms. Chretien is recuperating, other than, "she is some place."

Her survival is a story of amazing spiritual, mental and physical perseverance, he said.

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"As she stretched out those days she was always keenly aware that even though she was alone, she was never really alone."

Mr. Allenbrand said he expounded on Ms. Chretien's strength during his sermon.

"That really helps us with our sanity, how we face those things and the attitude with how we face those things."

The family wants Ms. Chretien to heal before putting her in front of cameras and microphones to describe her ordeal, Mr. Allenbrand said.

He doesn't think she knows that her story of survival is worldwide news.

"Even though she's done so well mentally, emotionally and physically the family wants to be conscious of not overwhelming her," he said. "She still has to come to grips with what happened to her husband."

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Search efforts by American authorities had been on and off again all last week due to bad weather, but the weekend forecast was more clear.

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