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California couple in their 70s found after 8 days in woods

Posted at 5:59 AM, Feb 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-24 08:50:26-05

A California couple is hospitalized Monday morning after being airlifted out of woods where they'd been stranded for more than a week.

The survival of hikers Ian Irwin and his wife, Carol Kiparsky, is being called a miracle, in part due to their age. Both are in their 70s.

They were found in Marin County, northwest of San Francisco, reports correspondent Jamie Yuccas.

More than 100 first responders and volunteers spent days combing through thick terrain and woods searching for Kiparsky and Irwin. As hope diminished, the search turned into a recovery effort.

But then, nearly eight days after the couple first vanished, there were signs of life.

"About halfway up we hear voices," said Quincy Webster, a Marin search-and-rescue volunteer. "They started yelling, 'Help.' We looked at each other and were like, that's them."

Rescuers had to crawl and break through thick brush in order to reach the couple.

"They were like, 'Thank God you found us,'" said Webster. "They were so happy."

The couple, from Palo Alto, had gone on a hike on Valentine's Day near their vacation rental. They went without their cellphones, food or water. They got lost, and survived by drinking from a puddle.

Irwin, who is 72, and Kiparsky, who is 77, were airlifted out, suffering from hypothermia, but okay. Temperatures had dropped into the low 30s at night.

Kiparsky is a prominent linguist and the author of several books, while Irwin, a chemist, is a leading Parkinson's disease researcher. Family members say they're in good spirits.

"Speaking with the family, this is a miracle," said Sgt. Brenton Schneider of the Marin County Sheriff's Office.