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Allison Scott and her boyfriend were camped out between Big Bear Lake and Angelus Oaks, California on Black Friday when they heard someone screaming.
As it turned out, that random encounter would be the beginning of a lucky rescue. Scott and her boyfriend followed the voice, and eventually found a man in the woods. He had clearly been through an ordeal.
“My boyfriend is looking over the ridge and calling out, ‘Hey I see you,'” Scott told ABC 7. “He had a stick with a water bottle on it trying to signal. He couldn’t walk. His feet were extremely swollen and infected just from walking so much, and possibly the cold where he was.”
When Scott and her boyfriend reached the man, who gave his name as Eric, he explained that he was from Oceanside, and he’d gotten lost in the wilderness two weeks prior. The only thing he had to eat along the way was half a jar of salsa.
Understanding how long a human body can go without food or water is a complex process because it varies based on genetics, body composition, and health conditions, but research shows that humans can survive without food for anywhere between 20 and 70 days, with most bodies failing around the 40 day mark.
Upon discovering Eric, Scott and her boyfriend immediately called 911. In an email, Mike McClintock, a battalion chief and spokesperson for the San Bernardino County Fire Protection District, said that the department sent crews to the remote area where the couple had found the downed hiker and eventually requested air support. A helicopter from the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department hoisted Eric, who had sustained “minor injuries,” and transported him to a waiting ambulance.
While authorities couldn’t confirm the rescued hiker’s current condition, Scott told ABC that Eric was recovering, and had offered to take them to dinner if they ever found their way to his neighborhood.