LONGVEW — A 67-year-old Longview man was rescued Friday after spending five nights in freezing temperatures after his pickup truck ran off a logging road. Richard Sturm’s daughter said a hospital test shows her father has a brain tumor, which she says may be the reason he got lost.
A bow hunter found Sturm high in the Willapa Hills northwest of Longview, the Daily News of Longview reported.
Sturm had only a Snickers candy bar to eat and scraped ice off the truck’s hood for drinking water, the newspaper reported.
The pickup’s battery died and Sturm had no heat for most of the ordeal. An experienced hunter himself, he bundled up in three sweatshirts and a jacket, wrapped himself in several blankets that were kept in the truck, and stayed put.
“It was probably a very wise thing with the weather being what it was,” Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson said. “Staying in the vehicle keeps you out of the wind and keeps you dry.”
Sturm was treated for hypothermia and dehydration.
Sturm’s daughter, Julie Nelson, no relation to the sheriff, said Friday that her father had been periodically confused in recent weeks.
Doctors at a Longview hospital performed a CT scan after his rescue and found a brain tumor, she said. He was sent Friday evening to a Portland hospital to be examined by a neurologist.
Nelson said she wishes her father had never gotten lost. Still, she called the ordeal “a blessing in disguise” because diagnosing the tumor might otherwise have taken much longer.
Nelson called the sheriff’s office, the newspaper and local radio station and posted Facebook alerts in her efforts to find her father. Volunteers supplemented official search efforts.
“I am elated. No. I’m ecstatic,” she said after learning her father was found. “I cannot express the gratitude we have for everyone that helped.”
The family rented a plane and pilot on Thursday and recruited another volunteer pilot to search by air, but the tree canopy kept them from seeing Sturm’s pickup.
The man was last seen Sunday evening when he left his daughter’s Castle Rock house after dinner to return to his own home.
Nelson said Friday night her father was lucid and understands his diagnosis.
Asked his thoughts about his ordeal, she said, “He said he did a lot of praying. He did a lot of thinking.”