'It's a miracle': Hear from volunteer who found man who was missing for 5 days after crash

By Sophia Beausoleil - Reporter, Cory McCord - Digital News Editor

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas - It's a story of survival: A missing man was found alive and safe after a car crash left him trapped for five days without food or water.

What happened?

Jose Velazquez, 32, disappeared Wednesday after leaving a bar in downtown Houston. He was headed home but never made it there, officials said.

Texas EquuSearch began the search for Velazquez on Sunday morning and found his vehicle around 3:25 p.m. Officials said he had suffered serious injuries but was still alive.

Investigators said Velazquez was driving north on Highway 242 at FM 1488 until he came to a dead end. He then drove about 100 yards into a wooded area and the vehicle flipped upside down, investigators said.

The search

The first person on the scene who helped pull Velazquez from the wreckage was Texas EquuSearch volunteer Alex Ybarra.

"It's a miracle," Ybarra said.

On Sunday, Ybarra, along with several others, searched the wooded area in hopes of finding Velazquez. He said a cellphone ping led them to that area.

As they looked through the wooded terrain, he said a volunteer found a bumper. Ybarra said they spread out about arm’s length and found more pieces of the vehicle, including floor mats.

Ybarra said as they kept walking, they noticed tree limbs that were knocked down.

"As I went forward more, that's when I saw something that was gray in the woods, which you don't see that very often," Yabbra said.

He said he realized it looked like a vehicle and told everyone to get back, which is when he heard a voice.

Finding Velazquez

"When I yelled out, that's when I heard somebody in the background say, 'I'm back here. Somebody help me,'" Ybarra said.

Ybarra said he saw Velazquez faceup on the ground outside a white Honda.

"I asked him how did he get here. He said he didn't know, said he felt like he was on a roller coaster," Ybarra said.

Ybarra said Velazquez asked for an ambulance and said he thought he might have broken several bones in his body.

"He was hungry, starving. He wanted Sonic and juice boxes when he got to the hospital," Ybarra said.

The crash is still under investigation.

“I didn’t ask questions, I was just there to comfort him. I grabbed his hand and said, ‘Hey brother, I’m here,'” Ybarra said. “He was telling me, ‘Hurry up and get the ambulance here, can you tell the ambulance to hurry up?’ and I said, ‘Man, I’m not trying to be funny, but you made it four and a half days brother, be patient, they’re coming,’ and as soon as I said that, the ambulance was in the background and I told him, ‘You hear that?  They’re coming.' That’s when he told me he wanted juice boxes and Sonic when he got to the hospital."

Ybarra's story

It took a group effort to find Velazquez, and Ybarra said he's proud to be a part have been a part of the group.

"My nephew (went missing). I was one of those family members, so I know what it feels like," said Ybarra tearfully.

Four years ago, his nephew, 18-year-old Alex Chavez, disappeared along with another teen, 17-year-old Jarvis Morgan.

Texas EquuSearch crews helped look for them but, unfortunately, they were killed. Their bodies were found later.

Several people were charged with the deaths of the two Baytown teens whose bodies were found in water near Anahuac.

Now, Ybarra's goal is to help others. He said he's happy that Velazquez has another day.

"I don't know, four and a half days, five days? God has a plan for that man, you know? It's unheard of," Ybarra said.

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