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Indiana couple missing in Nevada ‘at peace’ as husband dies

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana couple who had been missing for more than a week had peace with the world because the husband died a day before rescuers reached the woman, their nephew said Thursday.

Beverly Barker, 69, was released from a hospital in Reno, Nevada, on Wednesday, a day after rescuers found her and the body of her husband, Ronnie, 72.

“She was at peace with what was happening. Ronnie was at peace. They were lying together in the back seat of the Kia Soul,” Travis Peters of Indianapolis said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

The couple were found on Tuesday in the mountainous and forested high desert of the remote Silver Peak region of Esmeralda County, about 284 kilometers northwest of Las Vegas, west of Goldfield and east of the California border.

Both were with the Kia passenger car which they towed behind a 32ft (9.8m) motorhome before the motorhome got stuck in the mud. They apparently decided to try to continue in the car before it got stuck.

Peter said he spoke for over an hour Thursday morning with his aunt. The “hurt and grief” she feels was conveyed through her words, he said.

” She is fine. … You can tell she’s still weak. … But she’s strong and so strong-willed that it’s very therapeutic for me to talk to her,” he said.

Beverly Barker was released from hospital on Wednesday, he said.

“You wouldn’t think anyone would be released so soon. She was in the hospital for less than 24 hours,” Peters said.

His uncle had had part of his lung removed and could not get enough oxygen to survive at high altitude where they were stranded, he said.

“My Uncle Ronnie was a cancer survivor after being exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam,” Peters said. “It seems obvious to me that Ronnie was having trouble, even that first day, getting air into his lungs.”

The couple spent the time together staring at the sky, watching the planes go by and the stars, he said.

Peters criticized Nevada authorities for not doing more to find the couple. They relied on the family to do most of the work in finding the two and did not issue a silver alert for eight days, he said.

“My Uncle Ronnie died 26 hours before rescuers found my aunt. Maybe he would still be alive” with a more timely silver alert, Peters said of Nevada officials. “They drug their feet until Monday night.”

Peters directed most of his criticism of the raid’s handling at Esmeralda County Sheriff Kenneth Elgan, who did not immediately respond to further requests for comment Thursday.

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