A BADLY injured hiker has survived two weeks in a forest by crawling to and from a nearby stream for water.
The unnamed man injured his back in the Santa Fe National Forest in early August and was unable to walk. Some reports also suggest his backpack was stolen, leaving him without food or a means of communication.
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Left only with his filter bottle, he would crawl to a stream to get water before dragging his stricken body away from the colder, waterside air in the evenings.
The man, in his fifties, was discovered on Saturday by another walker – John Utsey – and his two children.
Speaking on local TV station KRQE, Mr Utsey explained that he was calling out to his daughter when he suddenly heard screaming just off the trail they were following.
“He was lying beside a creek,” he said.
“His legs didn’t… he couldn’t stand, he couldn’t move, he was delirious. So, he wasn’t making much sense.”
The children gave the injured walker food and water before trekking three miles from the spot in order to call emergency services with the GPS coordinates of the missing man’s location.
Despite an extensive search, a rescue team from the Santa Fe Fire Department could not locate the incapacitated hiker, eventually calling the operation off after eight hours.
Hearing of the failure to locate the man he had found, Utsey was up and out the very next morning to retrace his steps from the previous day’s discovery before calling 911 and guiding the second rescue crew to the exact spot.
Medics gave the casualty food and water before building a fire and wrapping him in emergency blankets to raise his body temperature.
“The man suffered from chronic back pain and again injured his back while hiking and could not stand or walk,” said Captain Nathan Garcia of the Santa Fe Fire Department who also explained how the man’s survival instincts kept him alive.
“He would wiggle his way to the stream, he would drink water from the stream, and then wiggle his way away from the stream at nightfall because of the colder temperatures that the stream brought,” he told KRQE.
The hiker is currently in a stable condition and recovering at a hospital in Santa Fe where he is expected to make a full recovery.
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