In a vast and remote section of the Escalante Desert in Southern Utah, a hiker by the name of William LaFever was rescued after being stranded for 3 weeks. What makes this survival and rescue story special is that William LaFever is Autistic. This fact alone may be one of the biggest contributions leading to the rescue of this 28 year old Colorado man.
William was attempting to hike from Boulder, Utah to Page, AZ where he was to receive a money wire from his father after his hiking gear was stolen in Boulder containing his money. Instead of catching a ride to Page, he decided to hike down the Escalante River to Lake Powell then hitchhike from there to Page. After several weeks without any contact with his family, he was reported missing, and the search began.
After a relentless search by air, and just before turning around the search helicopter, they spotted an individual laying down in the middle of the Escalante River just a short distance from Lake Powell. After landing, they found William sitting in the middle of the river and in bad shape. Deputy Ray Gardner stated that he’s never seen someone as emaciated as William LaFever up to this point in his career. Doctors also noted that William probably wouldn’t have survived another 24 hrs. As sheriff’s spokeswoman Becki Bronson stated ” He stayed with a water source, that was key. A person can go three weeks without food but only a few days without water. He stayed cool in the river, and he hydrated himself.”
The area of the river that William survived in is one of the harshest tracts of land in the country. Lava rock, steep cliffs, and thorny sagebrush plants were just of the few challenges for him to overcome. William later said that he drank river water to stay hydrated and had to eat frogs and other bits of edible things to fill his belly. Barely able to walk after weeks of torture, William spent most days laying in the river waiting for help, and at nights he would crawl to the bank for some rest.
What makes this survival story incredibly special is that Deputy Ray Gardner, an officer that was involved in the search, had just recently completed a training course in the search and rescue operations involving people with autism. What Deputy Gardner learned was that autistic people are comforted and drawn to water. With this bit of knowledge freshly acquired, the Escalante River became the search area of choice, and paid off greatly with the rescue of this dear soul.
Keeping Hydrated – Water is Key to Survival
Staying hydrated is the most important element in surviving in most emergency situations. Being able to drink the water wherever you may find yourself is of the utmost importance. All hikers, campers, fisherman, hunters, and everyone who likes being in the outdoors should have in their possession some sort of water purification device. Make Emergency Water products part of your DIY Food preparation kits.
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