The 'Help' Text Came Through, but It Was Too Late

Couple goes missing on cross-country trip, and only one makes it out of ordeal alive
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 7, 2022 1:50 AM CDT
They Went Missing on a Cross-Country Trip, Were Found Too Late for One
Mountains are reflected in an evaporation pond at the Silver Peak lithium mine in Esmeralda County, Nev. on Jan. 30, 2017.   (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP, File)

A single, desperate cry for help went through to family members too late to save a woman’s husband after the Indiana couple had been lost in Nevada’s high-desert wilderness for more than a week. “37.757753, -117.809568. Help.” It was a delayed text with GPS coordinates from Beverly Barker, 69, who survived the ordeal and was reported in good shape at a Reno hospital Wednesday, the day after rescuers found her and the body of her husband, Ronnie, 72. Their nephew, Travis Peters, said in a Wednesday Facebook post that he can only assume that as his aunt was being airlifted to the hospital—or perhaps her belongings were being brought down the mountain—her phone came into cell range and the message was sent late Tuesday, the AP reports.

“Now we know it arrived too late,” wrote Peters, who has been highly critical of law enforcement for what he says was too little too late in terms of a search for the Barkers. The couple was found Tuesday in the mountainous, forested high-desert in the remote Silver Peak area of Esmeralda County about 177 miles northwest of Las Vegas, west of Goldfield and east of the California line. Both were with the Kia passenger car they had been towing behind a 32-foot (9.8-meter) motor home before the RV got stuck in mud. They apparently decided to try to continue on in the car before it too got stuck. The couple had video that indicated they were in the Silver Peak area since March 27, but it was not clear when Ronnie Barker died or the cause of his death.

Beverly Barker had melted snow for water and the car provided shelter from temperatures that dipped into the 30s at night, Mineral County Undersheriff Bill Ferguson said Wednesday. “She would get out and go for little walks.” Family members who reported the Barkers missing have said in numerous social media posts they left on a cross-country trip last month and were expected to return this week to their home in Indianapolis. They said the couple departed Albany, Oregon, on March 27 and planned to meet with friends in Tucson, Arizona, on March 29. Ferguson said he has no idea how the couple ended up where they did. “What led them down that path, I don’t know. I don’t know if it was GPS or Google. I don’t know why they were there," Ferguson said. “They probably lost their direction, took a wrong turn and then the car became stuck.”

(More Nevada stories.)

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