The wife of a former gubernatorial candidate died of dehydration in early August after the couple was trapped for at least five days in rural North Idaho.
Shoshone County Sheriff Mike Gunderson said Wednesday that an autopsy confirmed Virginia Bayes’ cause of death.
Walt Bayes, 79, and his wife, 74, of Emmett, had set out for a Shoshone County camping site and had food and supplies with them. Gunderson said the couple got separated when Walt Bayes went to get water because Virginia Bayes wasn’t feeling well. When he returned, he couldn’t find his wife. He searched for five or six days, Gunderson said.
Then a firefighting crew rescued Walt Bayes. The crew found him near the Buck Fire, which burned 1,743 acres about 16 miles southeast of Avery, an unincorporated community 46 miles west of Saint Maries. He refused medical treatment.
Rescuers found Virginia Bayes’ body four to five hours later in a remote area near Bathtub Mountain, near the St. Joe River.
Virginia Bayes was the mother of 16 children and the grandmother to many more.
She was known for supporting Walt Bayes in his campaigns. The conservative Republican ran for governor in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014, never drawing more than 5 percent of the vote in primary elections. In 2006, Bayes went on an anti-abortion hunger strike that lasted 57 days. In 2008, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in Idaho’s House of Representatives.
His most well-known campaign came in 2014, when he challenged Gov. Butch Otter in the GOP primary, participating in a publicly viewed debate that drew national attention.