Jerry Jouret planned to travel about three hours on February 24 from Big Pine, California, to Gardnerville, Nevada. But the 81-year-old’s trip was cut short when his SUV got stuck in heavy snow. Jouret survived the nearly week-long ordeal by munching on candy, croissants, and biscotti and rationing his car’s heat.
Jerry’s grandson, Christian, told CNN the older adult believed he could travel from his mountain home to their family home before the approaching snowstorm. But things went wrong when he swerved into a small road and got stuck in a snowbank.
RELATED: Buffalo Woman, 22, Dies After Being Trapped Inside Car For 18 Hours During Blizzard, One Of At Least 28 Killed In Monster Snowstorm
As the daylight slipped away, the temperature dropped. At the time, California was being lashed with severe weather conditions. To make matters worse, Jouret, who Christian described as “pretty small,” wasn’t dressed for snowy weather.
“He doesn’t have a whole lot of meat on his bones,” Christian said.
Besides his SUV, the 81-year-old had a light windbreaker, light quilt, and hotel towel for warmth. Still, he made his resources work–turning his car’s heat on and off periodically.
As the days passed and snow continued to fall, Jouret stayed with his vehicle. He ate the snacks he found and occasionally ate snow that he grabbed by rolling down his window.
About halfway through his third day stuck, per CNN, Jerry’s car battery gave out. Christian said it happened while his grandfather attempted to roll his electric window back up. So, the window remained a few inches rolled down for the rest of his time in the snow.
Cell Phone Ping Led Rescuers To Jerry Jouret’s Location In The Snow
The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office received a ‘missing person’ notification on February 28. The county’s search and rescue teams planned to look for Jerry on March 1, but the continued winter storm delayed the search due to safety concerns.
Finally, on March 2, a California Highway Patrol team narrowed the search area through an old cell phone ping. Jerry’s cell phone had pinged at around 4 p.m. local time on the same day he started his road trip. After the weather permitted, two helicopter crews looked for Jerry from the skies around the Gilbert Pass area.
CNN reports that one pilot spotted what he believed was a large rock poking above a few inches of snow. He was taking his aircraft to be refueled, but the ‘rock’ drew his attention. When he took a closer look, the pilot noticed it was a car with an arm waving from a small window opening–the same one that got stuck on day three.
A Facebook post by Inyo County Sheriff’s Office on March 4 detailed the ordeal–photos included. After the helicopter crew spotted Jerry, they returned to the nearby Bishop Airport and prepared to extract him.
A rescue crew returned to the scene, loaded Jerry onboard the helicopter, and he was taken to Bishop Airport. Officials transported him to a hospital, but Jerry was released later that same day. He had no hypothermia, and the nurses were “in shock at how well his vitals were,” per Christian.
Though he’s physically well, Jerry reportedly told CNN he’s still traumatized by the experience.
Following the hospital, the 81-year-old was returned to his Big Pine home. His next attempt to get to Gardnerville involved taking a bus. Unfortunately, Jerry and his wife’s car is still stuck in the snow, per the outlet.
“If someone gets trapped, don’t give up hope,” Christian said. Some of us thought he was a goner. Never give up hoping. The human body is amazing for what it can endure.”