SANTA FE, New Mexico – A hiker stranded for 14 days in the Santa Fe National Forest was rescued by a family, according to KRQE News.
If it wasn’t for a father and his two children hearing the hiker cry for help, rescuers may have not found him in the wilderness.
“I’m not sure he had more than a day or two left,” John Utsey told KRQE, who was the first to find the hiker in distress.
Utsey said he heard the man’s cries as he was calling out for one of his children on the trail. Twenty minutes and 600 yards later, he said he found the hiker in bad shape.
“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. “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.”
He said he and his kids gave the hiker food and water before hiking three miles to the trailhead to call 911, according to reports.
But there was some confusion.
Santa Fe firefighters arrived at the scene within the hour but said they could not find the hiker and ended up calling the search off after eight hours.
“It was a little bit difficult to have to call off the search and rescue efforts,” Capt. Nathan Garcia, of the Santa Fe Fire Department, told the news station.
Utsey said hearing the news motivated him to go back to the forest the next morning and search for the stranded hiker. He said he found the hiker where he left him and called 911 again. Utsey led the rescue team to the hiker.
Utsey called 911 again, just before noon. This time he had to wait several hours for crews to arrive, which he says they did around 4 p.m. Utsey then led two separate groups of rescuers to the man.
“Never had we found somebody who had been out for that long,” Garcia told KRQE. “It’s hard to say. The human body can do some amazing things sometimes but I don’t think he had very much left in him. He seemed kind of at the end when we did actually encounter him.”
Firefighters said the hiker was taken Santa Fe hospital, where he is recovering.