Rescued hiker details story of survival in newly released statement

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- After spending nine days alone in the Sierra National Forest, Miyuki Harwood doesn't want to do any interviews or have her picture taken.

Family members say she's a private person, and wants to focus on her recovery.

But in a statement she released, she remembers the moment she was found by search and rescue teams, saying, "When I first saw them, it was a miracle and I was emotional."

"They all hovered around her, Harwood's sister-in-law Barb Hartwig told CRMC staff and the Fresno County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday. "She said she just felt so loved and she was so thankful that they found her and didn't give up hope that she was out there."

Harwood didn't give up hope either.

It was nearly two weeks ago that she got separated from her Sierra Club group near Blackcap Mountain and then fell off a cliff. Because she landed on her feet, family members say she broke her left leg and right ankle, and also hurt her back. She couldn't stand, and she was starting to run low on water.

"She knew she had to get to water, she did have a water filter with her, and she heard water down below her. So she decided to crawl down to that water," Hartwig said.

Harwood says once she got there, she filtered and drank a new liter of water every day.

Meanwhile, she heard search helicopters flying overhead. She whistled for rescuers on Friday, but they didn't hear her. She tried again on Saturday, and she was finally found.

"We were just hoping she'd be recovered if she had passed, but she was a strong person so we still had hope that she was out there," Hartwig said.

Hartwig, who flew in from Rochester, Minnesota, and Harwood's brother, who flew in from Japan, got the news Harwood was alive as they drove to the command post at Wishon Reservoir.

Harwood concluded her statement by saying "I greatly appreciate the rescuers who found me and had not given up hope to find me. Thank you to family, friends, coworkers, and the sierra club. I am doing okay and would like to concentrate on my recovery."

Tap or click if you'd like to see Harwood's full statement:
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