Lost in the Wilderness: One Man's Five-Day Fight for Survival


“I got excited, I started waving around my blue shirt on a stick,” said Villhauer as the helicopter kept repeatedly flying over and then leaving.

“It was a big rush, and then the letdown. A big rush, and the letdown,” described Villhauer, who assumed that the choppers were operating on a grid system, so once they deemed the area clear they would not be returning.

“I figured, if they hadn’t seen me yet, I was in here for the long haul.”

The choppers returned and began circling Villhauer, when he suddenly heard a bark from behind him. It was a search dog leading one of the rescue teams that had been looking for Villhauer since Friday.

After five days in the wilderness, he had been saved.

Villhauer was given a tiny meal, then transported in a chopper to a base where he met some of rescue teams.

“I was shocked at how many people were yelling and screaming and crying and hugging,” Villhauer said, who soon came to realize that his disappearance had culminated in the largest rescue search of the year.

Villhauer was reunited with his wife and family on Sunday night, staying in a hotel for the night and heading back home on Monday morning, when he was able to see a doctor. He suffered no serious injuries during his ordeal, just a few scrapes and bruises, though he did lose his wedding band somewhere along the way.

Villhauer happy to be back at home, and has nothing but gratitude for those the search teams, many volunteers, who helped him to get home.

“I appreciate all of those efforts,” said Villhauer, “I couldn’t say enough about those folks.”

Despite getting lost for five days, Villhauer is more than ready to plan another fishing trip, though he’ll likely bring a friend next time.

“I plan to go back,” Villhauer said, “I’m going to go up there and buy a whole lot of rounds of beer.”

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