An academic couple who vanished during a getaway in the woods of the Inverness area in Marin County was found Saturday by search-and-rescue workers who spent almost a week looking for them and gave up hopes of finding them alive.
The Marin County Sheriff’s office tweeted that two helicopter crews airlifted Carol Kiparsky, 77, and Ian Irwin, 72, to a hospital.
During a press conference, Marin County Sheriff officials said the couple went out hiking on Valentine's Day and got lost in the dark.
A family member said that the couple had been married for decades, and that Valentine's Day day was special to them. They had gone to watch the sunset but when it got dark they took a wrong turn and became lost.
The couple was staying at a vacation cottage near Inverness. The couple from Palo Alto never checked out the next day as planned and failed to show up for an appointment on Feb. 16, which sheriff's officials said was highly out of character for them.
When housekeepers went to the cottage to clean up, they found the couple’s phones and wallets. Their vehicle was parked outside.
No foul play was suspected.
Sheriff’s officials and a volunteer team combed the woods and waters around Inverness for several days with the help of drones, dive teams and boats equipped with radar and sonar. On Thursday, they shifted the operation to a “recovery mission” when they received four independent alerts from cadaver dogs around Shell Beach, about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from the cottage, and felt they had exhausted all possible leads.
On Saturday, as a volunteer team searched for the couple, the rescuers heard them yelling for help. Once they identified them, the team called in for more help.
According to the team, the area where the couple was found did not have a trail and had very thick brush.
The couple was wearing light clothing, no jackets and Carol Kiparsky was found without shoes.
At some point during their hike, Ian fell and injured his ankle. Carol tried to look for help and used a scarf to tie onto branches to make her way back to Ian.
Officials said during the press conference that the couple had no food or water with them, but survived by drinking out of a puddle.
"I'm absolutely ecstatic to see my mother joking with me," said Kiparsky's son John.
"I hope that nobody watching this understands how happy I am today," he said at a live press conference. "To be that happy you've had to have been to a really dark place."
A total of 70 people were searching Saturday morning, and approximately 400 people were part of the search and rescue mission since the couple went missing a little over a week ago.
Irwin is a leading Parkinson’s disease researcher. He was a chemist on the team that originally identified an agent responsible for the outbreak of Parkinsonism among heroin addicts in 1982, according to the Marin Independent Journal.
Kiparsky is a prominent linguist and author of several books on language, including 1975′s “The Gooficon: A Repair Manual for English.”