News

Hunter, 72, survives 19 days in California wilderness

Hunter, 72, survives 19 days in California wilderness

STAYIN' ALIVE: Gene Penaflor survived 19 days in the California wilderness. Photo: Reuters

By Karen Brooks

(Reuters) – A 72-year-old California deer hunter was recovering Monday after surviving on squirrels and packing leaves around him for warmth for nearly three weeks while he was lost and alone in the snowy wilderness, authorities said.

Gene Penaflor was discovered by hunters on Saturday after 19 days in the Mendocino National Forest in the Coastal Mountain Range of northwestern California, according to a report by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

“This is a miracle,” reads a message on a website dedicated to the search, www.genepenaflor.com, updated with a family photo at a local hospital over the weekend.

The Mendocino National Forest is run by the U.S. Forest Service and has been closed due to the government shutdown, according to the forest website. An outgoing voicemail message by a forest spokesperson said she had been furloughed.

Penaflor, described on the site as an avid hunter with more than 30 years of wilderness experience, had been hunting with a friend when they became separated on September 24, the report said.

After four days of searching by at least 18 agencies from more than a dozen counties, the official search was suspended because searchers could find no clues to his locations and because storms were coming.

On Saturday, 19 days after Penaflor disappeared, the search was resumed – but it was a group of hunters who heard Penaflor’s cries for help and eventually found him in a canyon in the 53,887-acre Yuki Wilderness area of the national forest.

He told officials he had walked too far away from the road, fell and hit his head, and was knocked unconscious. When he regained consciousness he was disoriented, surrounded by thick fog in a forest where the temperature dipped to 25 degrees.

“He was able to make a fire and warm himself with leaves and grasses that he packed around his body,” the report said. “On days when it rained or snowed he was able to crawl under a large log to stay dry. He was able to kill and eat several squirrels in the area and there was plenty of water in a nearby drainage to sustain himself.”

Penaflor is recovering well, according to social media postings by his son, Jeremy Penaflor.

“My dad was found alive and well!” the younger Penaflor said on Twitter on Saturday. “God is good.”

Recent Headlines

11 hours ago in Sports

NFL bars violent offenders from rookie scouting combine

nfl

The National Football League has decided individuals who have convictions for domestic violence, sexual assault or weapon offenses will no longer be allowed to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine.

12 hours ago in Viral Videos

Will Ferrell wants to be the new animal expert on ‘The Late Show’

15-overlay-7

Stephen Colbert's "The Late Show" doesn’t have an animal expert yet, so why shouldn’t it be Will Ferrell?

17 hours ago in Entertainment

The pouting male models are back for ‘Zoolander 2’

25-overlay-1

Derek and Hansel are back.

17 hours ago in Entertainment

TV producers may start making you wait for new shows online

hulu

Cord-cutters beware: You might have to wait longer for new TV.

18 hours ago in Sports

Party like it’s 1999: Denver to celebrate another Super Bowl

Denver Broncos’ head coach Gary Kubiak, right, reacts after getting soaked with a sports drink by Von Miller (58) after their win against the Carolina Panthers in the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. The Broncos won 24-10. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Denver Broncos will board fire trucks and roll slowly through the crowd-lined streets of the Mile High City to celebrate winning the Super Bowl.