A 73-year-old man was rescued after four days in the high deserts of Oregon after a mountain biker came across him by chance.
Gary Randolph's Jeep had got stuck in a dry, narrow creek bed so he hiked about 14 miles (22.5km) looking for help when he eventually collapsed. He was barely conscious when biker Tomas Quinones found him on 18 July.
Quinones was on day six of a seven-day bike packing trip and had already seen plenty of dead cows on the route. He initially mistook Randolph for a dead cow as he saw him passed out on the trail. He said: “As I got closer, I thought, ‘that’s a funny looking cow’ and then I realised that this was a man." The Guardian reports
that Quinones found Randolph badly sunburnt and unable to speak or sit up and quickly set about erecting his tent to provide Randolph with some shelter. He said, "I started noticing that he sometimes would look at me but his eyes were all over the place, almost rolling into the back of his head. Once I got a better look at him, I could tell that he was in deep trouble.” He also describes trying to talk to Randolph and getting nothing but grunts in reply. Quinones had not had a cellphone signal for two days, so he pressed the “SOS” button on a GPS tracking device he travels with in case of emergency.
While waiting for the emergency services, Randolph's Shih Tzu came out of the bush and Quinones fed it peanut butter. It had stayed with Randolph for the entirety of his ordeal. After an hour the emergency services took Randolph and his dog away and Quinones carried on with his ride. An airplane was used to spot Randolph's Jeep two days later where his other dog was found, it is believed to have survived by drinking water from muddy puddles in the creek bed.
Speaking about the Jeep, Lake County Deputy Buck Maganzini said: "It’s still there. It very well could stay there forever. I don’t know how he got the Jeep in as far as he did. He was just out driving the roads. That’s kind of common out here, there’s not a heck of a lot else to do."
Quinones has finished his back-country bike trip and said he feels lucky that he found Randolph when he did and that he had a way to summon help. He later discovered it would have been a six-hour ride to the next campsite with cellphone service had he not had his GPS tracking “SOS” device. Randolph is making a full recovery in hospital.