PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A 73-year-old man who was stranded in the remote Oregon high desert for four days with his two dogs was rescued when a long-distance mountain biker discovered him near death on a dirt road, authorities said Thursday.
Gregory Randolph had hiked about 14 miles (22.5 kilometers) with one of his dogs after his Jeep got stuck in a narrow, dry creek bed. He was barely conscious when biker Tomas Quinones found him on July 18.
Quinones, of Portland, hadn’t seen anyone all day as he biked across the so-called Oregon Outback, a sparsely populated expanse of scrub brush and cattle lands in south-central Oregon. At first, he thought the strange lump was a dead cow.
“As I got closer, I thought, ‘That’s a funny looking cow’ and then I realized that this was a man,” he recalled Thursday in a phone interview.
“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.”
Randolph was horribly sunburned, couldn’t talk or sit up, and could barely drink the water Quinones offered him.
Quinones hadn’t 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.
He sat with Randolph, unfurling his tent to provide shade as they waited. A dog — a tiny Shih Tzu — emerged from the brush and Quinones fed it peanut butter.
An ambulance showed up more than an hour later and whisked Randolph away, leaving the dog.
A sheriff’s deputy showed up minutes later and, after giving a report, Quinones continued his trip. The deputy took the dog.
But Quinones soon noticed what appeared to be Randolph’s footsteps in the dust and followed them back for four miles until the foot tracks left the road, he said.
When the deputy passed while leaving the area, Quinones pointed out the tracks then continued on.