A man and his two children rescued an injured hiker who was stranded in a New Mexico forest for 14 days, according to local authorities.
John Utsey was on a hike with his kids in the Santa Fe National Forest Saturday when they encountered the unidentified hiker, officials with the Santa Fe Fire Department said in a statement.
The unidentified hiker was a man in his 50’s who had sustained a back injury and was not able to move. Utsey told Albuquerque ABC affiliate KRQE that he was calling out to his daughter who was leading the hike when he heard screaming from a man who was off the trail, ABC News reports.
“He was lying beside a creek. His legs didn’t — he couldn’t stand, he couldn’t move, he was delirious. So he wasn’t making much sense,” Utsey told KRQE News. “I was like, ‘This guy really needs help.'”
A man and his two children rescued a hiker who was stranded in a New Mexico forest for 14 days, authorities say. https://t.co/8czUdQlWPm
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Utsey and his children offered the man food and water, and then hiked three miles to call 911, he said. Utsey said he gave firefighters the GPS coordinates of where they found the missing man, according to ABC News.
But firefighters could not initially locate the missing hiker and called off the search after eight hours, Captain Nathan Garcia of the Santa Fe Fire Department told KRQE.
Utsey said he called 911 again and this time led rescuers to the hiker’s spot. First responders immediately built a fire to raise the man’s temperature and provided him with food and water, according to the fire department.
“The man suffered from chronic back pain and again injured his back while hiking and could not stand or walk,” the fire department said in its statement. “His gear was stolen, at which point he got lost and disoriented.”
Captain Garcia said the hiker relied on his filtered water bottle for sustenance during his two-week ordeal.
“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 recovering at a Santa Fe hospital, fire department officials said.