10/02/2012 02:30 EDT | Updated 12/02/2012 05:12 EST

Albert Chretien's family thankful he died peacefully

The family of a B.C. man whose body was found by hunters in a Nevada wilderness a year and half after he went missing say they are thankful he died peacefully.

Albert Chretien's wife Rita and his brother Henry spoke about the discovery of his body in Nevada this past weekend, during a short appearance at the Penticton RCMP detachment on Tuesday morning.

Chretien's body was found by hunters on Saturday, lying undisturbed in the shelter of a tree. Officials estimate he had walked about several kilometres and climbed several hundred metres in the snow before stopping by a tree on a mountainside.

Henry said they were glad to learn his body was found undisturbed by animals.

"Our understanding is Albert's remains were found resting under a tree. He had placed his backpack where it could be seen. He lay down under the protection of the tree for a much needed rest and died peacefully in his sleep."

"We had long concluded he was in heaven already," said Henry. "Now we have insight into his last day here. We now have comfort and closure. We say praise the Lord."

His wife Rita said she was proud of how far her husband got through the wilderness trying to find help before he succumbed to the elements.

"I think I can really say I've had closure for a long time, but this was really nice to have that tangible evidence of how he had passed away," she said.

"It was a great joy and relief to know he was there and obviously resting in peace. It was such a comfort to know his body was not ripped apart by wild animals."

Discovered by hunters

Albert and Rita Chretien got stuck on a snowy logging road in northeastern Nevada in March 2011 after getting lost on a road trip from their home in Penticton, B.C. to Las Vegas.

Albert Chretien set out on foot to try to find help, while his wife stayed in their Chevrolet Astro minivan. Their disappearance sparked a massive manhunt that lasted for weeks.

Rita Chretien survived for 48 days in Nevada's wilderness, praying and subsisting on candy, trail mix and snow, before she was discovered inside the van by hunters.

Det. Dennis Journigan of the Northern Elko County sheriff's department said Albert's remains were discovered by a pair of hunters on Saturday in a secluded area of Merritt Mountain, several kilometres west from where he set off.