May 19, 2024

Family Found Dead in Forest Relied on YouTube Survival Clips: Relative

  • A family found dead at a campsite relied on YouTube for survival knowledge, their relative said.
  • The trio were trying to live off the grid in Colorado, and started camping around July 2022.
  • Trevala Jara, their family member, said they wouldn’t tell anyone where they were staying.

Two sisters and a 14-year-old boy who died at a Colorado campsite were trying to live “off the grid,” but relied mainly on YouTube videos for survival knowledge, their relative said.

Rebecca Vance, 42, her 14-year-old son, and her 41-year-old sister Christina Vance were found partially mummified in the Gunnison National Forest after a hiker stumbled across their tent on July 9, authorities said on Tuesday.

They intended to live off the grid, and likely started camping in July 2022, Gunnison County Coroner Michael Barnes told The Colorado Sun.

But the sisters and the boy, who was not named by officials, had no survival experience and were relying on YouTube videos and online research, Trevala Jara, the Vances’ stepsister, told The Washington Post. 

A friend who successfully lives away from civilization also gave them tips on how to survive, Jara added, per the outlet.

Jara said she was worried for her sister and nephew, and offered to let them use her RV and a generator to practice living by themselves in the mountains. But they rejected the suggestion, and were confident that they were well prepared, Jara told The Post.

“I was absolutely scared and worried for them,” she said, per outlet. “The last time they even went camping was when we were kids.”

She said her sisters refused to tell their family where they would be staying, and added that Rebecca Vance had become distrustful of the media and “influences of the world,” especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Christine Vance joined her sister and nephew thinking that they might have a better chance of survival if she came along, Jara said, per The Post.

“I don’t want people to assume or think that they were crazy, because they weren’t,” Jara said. “If I can reach anybody who thinks they can go off the grid by watching YouTube or going on the internet, I would tell them to please think twice.”

Barnes, the coroner, suspected the trio may have died due to starvation or extreme cold during last year’s “significantly harsh winter.” However, the official cause of death has not been determined.

He added that the family had “a lot of literature with them about outdoor survival and foraging,” but appeared to be buying groceries from a store.

They had attempted to build a lean-to shelter — a simple, makeshift structure to rest in — but were not able to successfully complete the construction by winter.

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