Mounties believe a woman who escaped a sex attack on a rural road in west-central Alberta ran into the bush to hide but became lost for 12 days.
The 25-year-old from the O’Chiese First Nation was discovered on Friday wandering in a remote area near Rocky Mountain House.
She remains in hospital with a broken jaw and infected cuts, said Corporal Nick Munro.
“She was suffering from exposure, may have been mildly concussed from the altercation — not in great shape,” he said Tuesday.
He explained that police and search-and-rescue volunteers began looking for the woman after her mother reported her missing.
Despite her injured jaw, and through garbled speech, she was able to briefly talk about the ordeal with investigators, and to identify her alleged attacker.
“We’re going to do a more in-depth interview once she’s recovered and had a chance to settle down.”
Munro said investigators have pieced together that the woman had been in a truck with four other people when it got stuck on the north end of the reserve July 14.
Three of them went to get help and, when they didn’t return, the woman and a man started walking.
That’s when he struck her face and tried to sexually assault her, Munro said.
“She fled into the bush and, when she was in there, she got lost and disoriented and couldn’t find her way out again.”
RCMP believe the group may have been drinking and alcohol could have played a role in the woman getting lost, Munro said.
Investigators knew nothing of the alleged attack when the woman was reported missing a couple of days later. Her friends and boyfriend hadn’t heard from her. Her mother was worried.
Officers talked with the people she was with in the truck, including the last man to see her. He was co-operative, didn’t know where she was and was not considered a suspect at the time, said Munro.
RCMP and volunteers from the reserve scoured the area on July 18 and the next day a helicopter joined the search. They then stopped looking.
“We had no further leads on where to search.”
Deep in the forest, the woman sipped river water and foraged for berries.
She hiked about 10 kilometres before an oilfield worker found her walking down a dirt road on Friday. He helped her get into his truck, called RCMP and met officers and an ambulance on a nearby highway.
Later that day, police arrested Kevin Roy Gladue in Edmonton.
The 36-year-old faces charges of sexual assault, aggravated assault and obstructing a peace officer. He is to appear in court in Rocky Mountain House on Wednesday.