A day after search-and-rescue crews found Gia Fuda, an 18-year-old Maple Valley woman who’d been missing more than a week, alive in the deep woods near Stevens Pass, her parents said their daughter was scraped, scratched and dehydrated, but otherwise in good health.
“She’s beat up pretty good,” said her father, Bob Fuda. “She wandered around in some pretty steep and dense terrain up there and at one point slid down a bank. But there’s no broken bones.”
Gia Fuda remained at a Monroe hospital, where she was resting Sunday afternoon and being treated for dehydration, added her mother, Kristin Fuda.
“She’s doing well, they’re just filling her up with lots of fluids,” she said.
Since being rescued Saturday afternoon, Gia, who left the family’s Maple Valley home to take a drive early on July 24, has told her parents that she got lost in the woods after her car ran out of gas, the couple said.
“She locked up the car, grabbed her keys, cellphone and little bag and started off toward town, trying to get cell reception,” Bob Fuda said. “At one point, she decided she was going to head up into the trails and try to get back into town, but little did she know that town was quite a ways off.”
His daughter “got turned around and lost,” and ended up spending the next eight days “wandering around up there for miles,” her father said.
Rescuers found her Saturday afternoon, sitting on a rock next to a creek up a steep, wooded ravine about 1.2 miles from where her car was found, 10 miles east of Skykomish on Highway 2, sheriff’s spokesperson Sgt. Ryan Abbott said.
“All she said was, ‘I don’t know where I am,’ ” Abbott said. “She hadn’t eaten in so long that she wasn’t making a lot of sense, so we just rushed her off to the hospital to get her some treatment.”
For eight days, search-and-rescue teams from multiple jurisdictions fanned out into the woods of the Cascade foothills, searching without luck.
About 50 volunteers searched each day, using a helicopter, several dog teams and rescuers specialized in mountain rescue techniques and tracking skills, said Jen Brenes, president of King County Search and Rescue.
The teams also tried to calculate where the missing woman might be based on her cellphone activity, but the area is a dead zone for cell service, Abbott said. Bloodhounds had tracked her scent 1.75 miles west from where her car was found. But then, “for some reason she turned into the woods,” Abbott said.
Then, Saturday afternoon, as rescuers methodically worked their way through a search pattern based on where her car was found, volunteers sweeping through a ravine along the Scenic Creek recovered a notebook with Gia’s name written in it, Brenes said. Several more personal items — her car keys, some clothing and a Bible — also were found.
“That caused us to redirect our attention to that area,” Brenes said.
A mountain rescue team with technical climbing skills ultimately located the young woman several hundred feet up the ravine, “seated on a rock right on the creek,” Abbott said.
“It’s very unusual for us to find someone alive after eight days,” Brenes said. “That doesn’t happen very often.”
When she was reunited with her parents, who were in the area for the search, Gia’s first words were “I’m fine,” said her mother.
“She thought she’d only been up there three days,” Kristin Fuda said. “She’d totally lost track of time.”
Gia drank water from the creek, but other than a few berries, she hadn’t eaten since getting lost, her parents said. At night, she sheltered next to trees, rocks or in caves, her father said.
Kristin and Bob Fuda said Thursday that they had dinner with their daughter on July 23 at their Maple Valley home.
The next morning, they said, she left the house around 8 or 9 a.m. without mentioning where she was going, although her parents said that wasn’t out of the ordinary. When she didn’t return and they hadn’t heard from her by that night, they called the police.
“We’re just so grateful; that search-and-rescue team is an amazing group of volunteers,” Bob Fuda said.
“She’s very lucky,” Abbott added. “We’re absolutely thrilled.”
Early Saturday evening, Kristin Fuda updated her Facebook page.
There was no text, simply an earlier photograph of her smiling daughter.