Drone Discovers Truth Behind Missing Woman’s Disappearance In Forest

Photo Credit: Dmitriy Ganin / Pexels / Free to Use
Photo Credit: Dmitriy Ganin / Pexels / Free to Use

Each year, numerous individuals become lost while traversing America’s vast national parks and hiking trails. While the majority are found rather quickly, others are never located – think actor Julian Sands, who went missing during a hike in California‘s San Gabriel Mountains.

There are even those who purposely go missing, without the intention of ever being found. Such an instance occurred in 2020, when a woman left for a hike in Utah, prompting a large-scale search that ended in an unexpected discovery.

Diamond Fork Canyon

Sign signaling the entrance to the Diamond Fork Guard Station
Photo Credit: An Errant Knight / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Diamond Fork Canyon, located northeast of Logan, Utah, is among the most beautiful spots in the entire United States. Visited daily by hikers, nature lovers and campers, it features glacier-blue mineral hot springs, campgrounds and the Dry Canyon Trail, one of the best hikes for those with more experience.

Belongings are discovered

Red car parked in a gravel parking lot
The missing woman’s car, in the parking lot near a campground in Diamond Fork. (Photo Credit: Utah County Sheriff’s Office)

In November 2020, an unidentified 47-year-old woman parked her car in a parking lot of a US Forest Service campground, in the Diamond Fork area of Spanish Fork Canyon, presumably to go for a hike.

On the 25th, officials were preparing to close the campground for the season when they came across the car, as well as camping equipment and information that identified the items’ owner. No signs were found that the woman had returned to her car after leaving it in the parking lot.

Searching for the woman

Two detectives standing in front of a cork board covered in images
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Detectives with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, as well as search and rescue officials, launched a search of the area by land and from the air. Unfortunately, nothing of value was located. Believing her car and items may have been abandoned, they impounded the vehicle and kept the camping gear.

While there was, at one point, telephone information that suggested she may have traveled to Colorado, this turned out to be a dead end.

Contact with former co-workers provides some insight

Individual holding their head in their hands
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Over the following months, detectives tried to locate and contact the woman’s family members, to no avail. They did manage to reach her former co-workers, but they were unable to provide any information as to their ex-colleague’s whereabouts.

What her co-workers were able to tell the authorities is that she may have been struggling with “mental health challenges” at the time of her disappearance, according to a press release by the sheriff’s office.

Volunteers join the search

Hikers walking in a line across a rocky ledge
Photo Credit: Eric Sanman / Pexels / Free to Use

When the woman’s possible mental health struggles were brought to light, a number of volunteers joined in the ground search. While there was a risk that the uptick in people at the campground could possibly disturb potential evidence, the sheriff’s office was happy for the help.

An abandoned tent

Rocks piled along the outside of a red and blue tent in the forest
Missing woman’s tent, which was discovered in Diamond Fork months after her disappearance. (Photo Credit: Utah County Sheriff’s Office)

On May 2, 2021, a sergeant with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office returned to the area with members of a non-profit aerial search organization, with the hopes of finding evidence that the woman was still in the area.

They launched a drone, which crashed shortly after takeoff. When the sergeant and the unmanned aerial vehicle’s (UAV) operator went into the wooded area to search for it, they came across a tent they believed to be abandoned.

An individual emerges from the tent

Towel and chair within a red tent
Interior of the missing woman’s tent. (Photo Credit: Utah County Sheriff’s Office)

Just as the pair approached the tent, its zipper opened. The person who emerged was the woman the sheriff’s office had been looking for. While they hadn’t expected to run into her while retrieving the drone, the excursion wound up being more fruitful than the sergeant and operator had hoped.

The woman had been quite resourceful

Person climbing over a rock covered in moss
Photo Credit: Pictures Ltd. / CORBIS / Getty Images

While the woman had lost quite a bit of weight and showed signs of physical weakness, she was otherwise okay. She’d left her car in November 2020 with a small amount of food, and foraged for grass and moss when those reserves ran out. She didn’t need to worry about water, as she’d pitched her tent near a river.

There were concerns for the woman’s wellbeing

Blue lights on the top of a police car
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According to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, the woman “knowingly chose to remain in the area over the months” since she was last seen. Concerned about her condition, officials transported her to a hospital, where she underwent a mental health evaluation. Resources were also made available, should she wish to use them.

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Ending their press release, the sheriff’s office stated, “We want to be clear that while many people might choose to not live in the circumstances and conditions this woman did, she did nothing against the law.”


Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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