An 81-year-old man who went missing while driving from California to Nevada survived being stuck in the snow in part because of a stash of biscotti and croissants.
Jerry Jouret, a former NASA employee and Air Force veteran, was caught in a severe winter storm after leaving his grandson’s home in Big Pine, California. Thirty minutes into his four-hour drive back to his home in Nevada on Feb. 24, Jouret ended up on the wrong road and became trapped in his car after it was engulfed by a snowbank near Gilbert Pass.
To make it through the ordeal, Jouret turned to skills he had seen employed on the television show Survivor. He conserved his car battery for nearly four days. He ate snow in order to stay hydrated. He kept warm with a quilt and bath towel he found in his vehicle. He also ate a small stash of croissants, candy and biscotti he had kept in the car.
“The whole thing was just a miracle,” his grandson, Christian, told the BBC. “It was hard for us to think a man could do so much with his life, create such a legacy, and then get trapped in his car and die of hypothermia.”
Over the course of the week, the region was blanketed by three feet of snow – slowing down efforts to locate Jouret.
Jouret’s car battery died halfway through his fourth day trapped in the car while he was trying to roll up his window, increasing his exposure to the freezing weather. He was rescued on March 2, six days after becoming lodged in the snow banks.
Inyo County Sheriff’s Office said Jouret was found via helicopter following a mobile phone signal trace, per CBS News.
“When the crew made their way closer for inspection, a window was lowered and a person began waving from inside the vehicle,” the office said in a press release.
Jouret was airlifted to a hospital where his vitals were normal. He showed no signs of hypothermia and was discharged later that night.
California has recorded record snowfall this year. Governor Gavin Newsom declares 13 counties to be under a state of emergency as a result of severe winter storms.
Yosemite National Park closed indefinitely after as much as 15 feet of snow were recorded in some areas. Additionally, at least 40 inches of snow had accumulated at the lowest points of Yosemite Valley, per CNBC.
Avalanche warnings were in effect near Lake Tahoe as of March 10.
“Widespread avalanche activity is expected to occur with heavy loading of the snowpack from rain and high intensity snowfall,” the Sierra Avalanche Center said in its latest warning. “Travel in, near, or below avalanche terrain is not recommended.”
According to data from the University of California-Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Laboratory, the state has received 460 inches of snow as of March 6. The total surpasses the seasonal average by 100 inches.