81-year-old man survived almost a week stuck in a snowdrift on croissants and sweets
An elderly man lived on croissants, sweets and biscotti for almost a week alone in his car, got stuck in a snowdrift on a dead-end California highway.
Jerry Jouret, 81, left his mountain home in Big Pine, Calif., on Feb. 24 to return to his family’s home in Gardnerville, Nevada — a little more than a three-hour drive in good conditions.
According to his grandson Christian, Jouret thought he would be able to ride out the coming snowstorm. He was wrong.
While driving, Jouret accidentally veered onto a smaller road and his SUV got stuck near Gilbert Pass, he told CNN.
Overnight, temperatures in the area dropped from the mid-30s to the mid-teens.
The mathematician and former NASA employee was ill-prepared for the weather, wearing only a light windbreaker, his grandson said. “He’s pretty small,” Christian added. “He doesn’t have much meat on his bones.”
A light blanket and a hotel towel were the only things Jouret had to keep warm, he said.
Jouret, described by his grandson as “a very intelligent man,” stayed with his car and conserved gas and battery power, only turning on the SUV to warm it up.
An estimated 3 feet of snow fell during a series of storms that hit the state during the week. Many areas in California a significant amount of snow fell — an unusual phenomenon for the state, which is not used to harsh winters. The brutal conditions, which dragged on for days, knocked out power in thousands of homes, covered roads with snow and left many like Jouret stranded.
Jouret survived by eating the few snacks he had in his car. From time to time he rolled down the window to enjoy the snow.
In the middle of the third day, Jouret’s car battery died when he was raising the power window again, his grandson said. It remained open a few inches throughout his misadventure.
On Feb. 28, the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office received a “missing person request,” according to the report. Facebook post.
Inyo County Search and Rescue had planned a search mission for the next day, but was forced to postpone due to safety concerns caused by the winter storm, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Then, on March 2, a cell phone ping identified by a California Highway Patrol team helped narrow the search area, and helicopter crews were deployed as soon as weather permitted.
As one team headed to refuel the plane, the pilot noticed what he initially thought was a large rock. A closer look revealed the vehicle – and the pilot noticed a hand waving from a small opening in the car’s window.
“Within a short period of time, they identified a vehicle that was partially covered in snow,” the sheriff’s office said. “The CHP crew loaded the subject aboard and transported him directly to Bishop Airport for medical treatment. . . . The subject was released from the hospital that evening.”
Jouret had only been in the hospital for a few hours and showed no signs of hypothermia, his grandson said. “The nurses were shocked at how good his vital signs were,” the younger Jouret said.
After leaving the hospital, Jouret was returned to his home in Big Pine. He then had to take a bus home to his wife in Gardnerville because the couple’s SUV got stuck in the snow.
Jouret told CNN he is recovering well, but says he is still traumatized by the ordeal.
Christian Jouret hopes his grandfather’s miraculous rescue will serve as a warning to others about how dangerous winter travel can be, especially if you’re not used to it.
Above all, “If someone is trapped, don’t lose hope,” Christian said. “Some of us thought he was gone. Never give up hope. The human body is amazing at what it can endure.’
Inyo County Search and Rescue reminded drivers to be prepared for winter weather conditions.
“If it’s snowing, make sure you’re prepared, avoid road closures and bring extra supplies. Or don’t travel at all and wait until roads and weather clear,” the organization said in a Facebook post.