INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis woman who was found with her husband more than a week after the couple went missing in the Nevada mountains is sharing the story of their ordeal through her family.
"It was a religious experience on that mountain in so many ways," said the couple's nephew, Travis Peters, a photographer and editor at WTHR.
Beverly and Ron Barker were found Tuesday on a remote mountain, nine days after they were last seen at a Nevada gas station. Beverly was airlifted to a Reno hospital, where she was treated Tuesday night.
Her husband did not survive. He died Monday afternoon as the couple waited for help.
Peters talked with his aunt and other family members Wednesday on a video call after she was released from the hospital.
Beverly shed some light on the days she and Ron spent stuck in a desolate part of Nevada, west of Silver Peak.
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The couple got lost March 27 because of bad GPS directions.
"It was one of those things where the GPS said, 'Go this way' and they went that way. They saw other vehicles and I think she said they saw other campers," Peters said.
Their RV got stuck that night. The next morning, they got into the SUV they were towing to drive to help.
"They didn't think about bringing food, or water or blankets," Peters said. "They just made this route, 'We'll just go back the same way' they came."
The Barkers got stuck again.
"This is so my uncle Ronnie. He started tapping SOS on the horn every ten minutes. He would pound SOS out," Peters said.
No one heard them and they had no cell service.
"They would snuggle in the back seat of the Kia. As Ronnie got worse, they were trying their best to huddle together and stay warm," Peters said.
Beverly, who is not mobile and often uses a walker or wheelchair to get around, walked to get snow for the couple to drink.
"She had a walker and would make it up the hill and had a couple sacks and put snow in and make it back down," Peters said.
They scooped the snow into N-95 masks they had in the car to eat and tried to melt some of the snow in bottles to drink.
Without food or water, Ronnie's condition worsened.
"As the days and the nights passed, my uncle Ronnie told her he was dying," Peters said. "And she said, 'I know.' They knew it was dehydration."
Beverly read the Bible to her husband, who passed away shortly after 3 p.m. Monday. She told her family she took a photo to remember the time he died.
Now alone, she continued honking the SUV's horn, in hopes someone would hear her.
"She remembered the SOS that Uncle Ronnie taught her. Beeping that horn is what brought rescuers to her," Peters said.
She didn't know that rescuers had found the couple's RV. They were trying to follow the Kia's tire tracks through the desert when one member of the search party heard her honking.
"I'm amazed at the strength that woman had up there. I have no doubt that it was the Lord carrying her to that water - to that snow - to make water that kept her alive," Peters said.
The rescuers gave her water and airlifted her off the mountain to a hospital in Reno. She was released from the hospital Wednesday and told her family her husband was at peace.
"He told her he loved her. She said he was totally at peace with leaving our earth and going on to Heaven," Peters said.
Ronnie Barker, a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, was 72 years old. Beverly turns 70 on Saturday.
The couple's family said in a statement that while they mourn his passing, they hope his legacy includes changing policies in Nevada to allow for a faster approach to locating missing persons of all ages. They hope that other families don't face the same hurdles they did in the search for their loved ones.
"Out of Ronnie's passing, there's going to be good that comes from it. There's going to be changes that the way Nevada handles missing persons, I can assure you of that," Peters said.
There are official GoFundMe and Venmo accounts setup if you would like to help the Barker family with expenses involved in the search, recovery and medical care.
The GoFundMe account can be found here. Contributions may be made via Venmo by donating to: @Ron-Bev-Barker-Fund.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been edited to correct the Venmo address of the fund to help the Barker family. The correct address is @Ron-Bev-Barker-Fund.)