Family Tries to Survive Off the Grid Using YouTube Tutorials, Fails

Two women and a teenage boy were found dead after they ventured into the mountains to live off the grid using only knowledge from YouTube tutorials.

The partially mummified bodies of 42-year-old Rebecca ‘Becky’ Vance, her 14-year-old son, and her sister Christine, 41, were recently discovered by a hiker at a camp site in Gunnison National Forest. Last summer, Becky had convinced her son and her sister to go live off the grid, in the wilderness, disconnected from a society that she no longer felt they belonged to. Unfortunately, despite having watched hours of off-grid survival videos on YouTube and on TV, they had very little experience in outdoor survival and did not really prepare enough before venturing into the wilderness. When they were discovered, they had not managed to build a shelter other than a tent and had little more than canned food and ramen noodles for supplies.

Photo: Hannah Wallace/Unsplash

“The last time they went camping is when we were kids,” Rebecca’s sister, Trevala Jara, said. “My sister didn’t have a button to press for when they wanted to quit. I wished they’d practiced. You can look on YouTube, and there’s some good survival stuff on there, but reading it, watching it or whatever, is totally different from doing it and living way off the grid.”

Most of the survivalist tutorials and TV shows Rebecca Vance had apparently become fascinated with have some sort of panic button protagonists could press for help, but for the single mother and her family, there was no way to contact rescuers.

Coroners have not been able to determine how the trio of off-grid survivalists met their end, but the most likely scenarios are exposure to extremely low temperatures and malnutrition. An investigation of the campsite found that the three had been working on a ‘lan-to’ type of shelter to protect them from the elements, with only a tent as an alternative.


Trevala and her husband, Tommy, who had tried to talk Rebecca and Christine out of their plan, believe that the two sisters and the teenage boy probably did well in the first few months after they left Colorado Springs last August, but probably ran into big problems when the cold weather set in.

“These mountains are a beast. If you don’t know how to handle them, they’ll handle you,” Tommy said. “Even the most avid outdoorsman would have had a very difficult time. It’s probably the roughest place this side of the western slope with the coldest weather in the state.”

Trevala Jara told NBC News that her sister, Rebecca, had made the radical decision to take her son away from a society she no longer considered safe, especially after the Covid pandemic. unfortunately, she wasn’t prepared for an isolated lifestyle in an extreme environment, with no way to contact anyone for help.


“I just hope my sisters can teach people you can’t go off the grid without experience,” Trevala said. “Those mountains are unforgiving. But go ahead, turn off the internet, turn off the TV. Go back to pretty much like we’re in the 1980s. Just don’t go live off the grid.”

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