Oregon trucker potato chips missing for days emerges from wilderness.
An Oregon trucker who went missing for four days walked a shorter distance to get home than was reported by the man’s employer, authorities said Sunday.
Oregon State Police Sgt. Kaipo Raiser said the agency’s investigation shows Jacob Cartwright, 22, walked about 14 miles over four days before he showed up Saturday near the town of La Grande, where an intensive search involving aircraft had been taking place since he went missing Tuesday.
His boss, Roy Henry of Little Trees Transportation, previously said Cartwright walked 36 miles (58 kilometers) back to civilization after getting lost in a remote and rugged area.
Henry has said Cartwright went missing Tuesday when he took a wrong turn and his tractor-trailer got stuck.
Cartwright, meanwhile, remains hospitalized, and is recounting a trip he will never forget.
“I look at it as what don’t kill you makes you stronger,” he said Sunday evening from his hospital bed, as he recovers. “Feels like everything in my body is just about broken,” he said.
On Saturday, a nursing supervisor at Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande, said Cartright was doing well.
“He looks to be pretty good,” said Danita Thamert. “He’s a big boy. He kept moving and stayed warm enough. So it doesn’t look like he’s going to have too many injuries.”
Henry said Cartwright was driving a truckload of potato chips but the tractor-trailer got stuck after he took the wrong turn in an area with limited cellphone coverage.
Henry said Cartwright’s troubles started when he put the wrong address in his GPS at the start of his trip. It told him to turn south off Interstate 84 near the town of Pendleton.
Henry said Cartwright eventually realized he was on the wrong road and put in the correct address. The GPS then directed him to take a U.S. Forest Service road that started out paved but eventually became impassable.
“What it boils down to is a simple matter of human error,” Henry said. “He made the proper effort to correct his mistake. From that point on it was out of his control. He had no reason to believe the GPS was wrong.”
Cartwright says he left the chips behind, and started walking. “I’m not going to touch someone else’s product,” he said. “To me, that’s stealing.”
The trucker started walking away from the direction he had come from without any food and just a few bottles of water just after midnight Wednesday wading through snow at some points.
He talked about surviving in the wilderness, covering himself with pine needles at night to try and stay warm. His bottled water was gone, almost immediately, he said, so he had to find another way to stay hydrated.
“I was just eating snow at the end of the day, just trying to stay hydrated, I didn’t have food and the only animals I saw was mice, that was it, I had no way of starting a fire everything was so soaking wet nothing would spark.”
He says he was so cold, he was shaking and could not feel his hands and feet, and the thought of his family kept him going.
“I’m going to to home to my kids one way or another,” he said. “Hell or high water.”
He didn’t stop until Saturday morning when he neared La Grande, where he lives, Henry said. From there, the trucker got a ride from a passing motorist to his home.
Cartwright’s wife returned home from meeting with local officials about the search for her husband only to find him in their house.
“He took his cowboy boots off and put on flip flops,” Henry said.
“She grabbed me and hugged me,” Cartwright said. “She told me she thought I was dead, I told her ‘you ain’t getting rid of me that easily’!”
Cartwright told his wife “he was hurting real bad and was real cold. So she packed him up and took him to the hospital.”
Henry said Cartwright was driving the truck about 400 miles (640 kilometers) from Portland in northwestern Oregon, to the town of Nyssa near the Idaho border. Temperatures in the region have been dropping into the 30s at night.
Oregon State Police, after interviewing Cartwright, were able to locate his truck, which had several wheels sitting precariously on a steep embankment, 21 miles (34 kilometers) away from the last known GPS location.
Even though there was limited cellphone coverage, the battery on Cartwright’s phone eventually went dead.
At the hospital, Cartwright first told Henry that he hoped he would not lose his job — and Henry assured the trucker with children ages 4 and 2 that he wouldn’t.
“It was pretty much just sheer will and determination that got him out,” Henry said.