SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A father and his two children while out hiking helped rescue a man who was stranded in the Santa Fe National Forest for 14 days.
John Utsey launched an unexpected two-day rescue mission Saturday after hearing a call for help while hiking with his kids up to Windsor Trail toward the Santa Fe Baldy, KRQE-TV reported.
“I’m not sure he had more than a day or two left,” said Utsey, who was the first to find the hiker in distress.
Utsey heard his voice after calling for his daughter who walked up the trail and out of sight. He immediately began searching for the man, who was found 20 minutes later and about 600 yards (550 meters) off the trail down a steep hillside.
The man was lying beside a creek, he couldn’t move and was delirious, Utsey said.
“His lips were all chapped to the point they were bleeding. His tongue was swollen; he was super gaunt and skinny. I was like this guy really needs help.”
Utsey and his kids gave the man all of the food and water they had before hiking back to the trailhead to call 911. Santa Fe firefighters arrived within the hour, but could not find the hiker and called off the search after eight hours.
Utsey went back out to the spot Sunday at 9 a.m. and found the hiker in the same spot. He then called 911 again and waited until around 4 p.m. for crews to arrive. He then led two separate groups to the man.
“Never had we found somebody who had been out for that long,” Fire Captain Nathan Garcia said. “I don’t think he had very much left in him. He seemed kind of at the end when we did actually encounter him.”
Garcia said the man, who is older than 50, was an experienced hiker but hurt his back. He went more than a week without food. He is recovering at a local hospital.
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