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Missing 23-year-old hikers found after a 19 day ordeal

Jennifer Savin
Photo credit: New Zealand Police

From Cosmopolitan

Two missing 23-year-olds, who went out for a hike in Kahurangi National Park, New Zealand, have been found alive after a 19 day ordeal. Jessica O'Connor and Dion Reynolds had originally only intended to explore the beauty spot for six or seven days but got lost and then injured in the 4520,020,000 m2 space. A friend of the pair reported them missing on 18 May.

Jessica, who works as a kayak guide and Dion, a chef, took enough food to sustain them for around a week, but early into their expedition found themselves disorientated by fog and unable to trace their steps. While searching for their way back to a known route, Jessica sustained a back injury and Dion hurt his ankle.

It was after their injuries that the pair luckily found a water source, decided to light a fire and stay put, in the hopes that help would soon arrive. It took the authorities nine days to find them after the report was filed and at one point hopes were beginning to fade, when a jumper was discovered by a search team (but it turned out not to belong to either Jessica or Dion). They also survived extreme temperatures and heavy rain, according to a BBC report.

The news that they'd been found alive and well was confirmed by New Zealand Police, who tweeted, "Missing trampers Dion Reynolds and Jessica O'Connor have been found alive … more to come."

The pair were found around lunchtime on 27 May, after a search helicopter spotted the smoke coming from their fire and asked for a rescue helicopter to be dispatched.

Sergeant Malcolm York, who co-ordinated the rescue, said the hikers were in good spirits when the police reached them, but that they'd "been without food for some time" when they were found in a small 3m2 forest clearing.

Photo credit: New Zealand Police

"They did the right thing. They stayed put and they made themselves visible."

Speaking of the phone call she had with her daughter after her rescue, Jessica O'Connor's mother, Simone, said: "She was very emotional. I think she was in tears and couldn't talk much...we will talk more once we see her."

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