Three family members were found dead in Gunnison County, Colorado, earlier this month after trying to live “off the grid” without any experience or preparation.
The partially mummified and decomposed remains of Christine Vance, 41; Rebecca Vance, 42, and Rebecca's 14-year-old son, were discovered July 9 after a hiker notified authorities of a body in the Gunnison National Forest. One body was discovered out in the open, and the other two were in a tent. The cause of death has not yet been released, but authorities were pointing to starvation, exposure to freezing temperatures, or carbon monoxide poisoning as possible causes.
It is also still unknown when the trio died. Authorities believe they established the campsite around July of last year. Gunnison County Coroner Michael Barnes estimates they died sometime over winter. Colorado winters can be dangerous, cold, and unforgiving.
“I wonder if winter came on quickly and suddenly they were just in survival mode in the tent,” Barnes told the AP. “They had a lot of literature with them about outdoor survival and foraging and stuff like that. But it looked like they supplied at a grocery store.”
The campsite also had empty food containers and a partially built lean-to built from local logs, authorities said. There were no vehicles or firearms at the campsite.
Family members say the three were trying to escape civilization by living off the land. Trevala Jara, a stepsister to Rebecca and Christine Vance, told Anchorage Daily News that the two women notified her last year of their plans to relocate to the wilderness.
“(Rebecca) was fearful of a lot of things with the way she thought the world was going,” Jara said. “She was actually trying to save her son, and our sister.”
Jara did not think living off the grid was the answer.
“We tried to stop them,” she said. “But they wouldn’t listen. Their minds were made up.”
Her biggest concern was that the three were being naïve and taking on more than they could handle.
“You can’t go on the internet and watch videos on how to live off the grid, and then actually do it, if you have no experience,” Jara said. “You just can’t do that. They died because they weren’t prepared.”