How a Guy Lived for 3 Days in Sub-Zero Wilderness

Craig Johnson says he survived 'for my boys, my family'
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2014 1:50 PM CST
Guy Survives 3 Sub-Zero Days, Fends Off Wolverine
A man drives a snowmobile in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Robert Ray)

A man says he spent three days fending off Alaska's brutal cold—and a slow, prowling wolverine—after his snowmobile broke through sea ice and sank beneath him, ABC News reports. On Dec. 15, Craig Johnson was on an 80-mile trip through wilderness to see his family when the ice cracked: "Everything just happened so fast," he says. "I almost gave up. ... But I couldn't give up. I had to do it for my boys, my family." Johnson trudged for 30 miles seeking help, stalked all the while by a wolverine. "You could hear it on the ice, just playing with me, toying with me," he says. Johnson emptied his gun firing warning shots at the animal (or trying to shoot it, says the Arctic Sounder) and ended up crawling inside a wooden platform used to erect wall tents in the warmer seasons.

Temperatures had dipped to -35 degrees by his third night, when Johnson saw rescue helicopters flying past within 200 or 300 yards. "That's when I lost hope," he says. "I just laid back down in that box I was in. It just felt like that was an open grave for me." But a search team led by a Johnson cousin found him that night, "frozen chest-high," says April Brower, a search and rescue director. "From what my guys told me, he was in a lot of pain." Suffering from dehydration, hypothermia, frostbite, and internal injuries from his crash, Johnson began recovering at an Anchorage hospital. The real mystery is how he survived at all. "We have repeatedly asked that question amongst ourselves," says Brower. "I think it had a lot to do with his will to live." (Read more Alaska stories.)

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