With 'Winning Mindset,' He Survived 17 Days in Woods

With family on his mind, Harry Burleigh, 69, never gave up
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2021 12:06 PM CDT
Missing Fisherman Found Alive After 17 Days
A scene from the rescue effort.   (Douglas County Sheriff's Office)

An Oregon man who failed to return from a fishing trip has been found alive after 17 days lost in the wilderness. Harry Burleigh's wife reported him missing May 7 after he failed to return home the previous day. The Roseburg resident's vehicle was soon located at a trailhead leading into Twin Lakes in Umpqua National Forest on the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains, per CNN. A week later, searchers with Douglas County Search and Rescue located Burleigh's fishing gear along with a shelter, built from a downed log, bark, and some ferns, per KATU. But Burleigh was nowhere to be found. Joined by other agencies, searchers were again looking for the 69-year-old on Sunday when they came up against tough terrain that halted their efforts. It was while leaving the area on a different route that they came across a second shelter.

This time, Burleigh was with it. "The search crews called out to Mr. Burleigh who responded back," according to the sheriff's office. He didn't just respond. Sgt. Brad O'Dell says the man was "handing out hugs," per KATU. Whisked to a hospital by helicopter after complaining of minor pain, he's listed in stable condition. He'd apparently lost the trail sometime during darkness and spent the remainder of his time searching for safe drinking water and food. "He survived off of what resources he could find" and told his rescuers that "he kept doing this 'one day at a time, one step at a time,' for love for his family and everything else," says O'Dell. "So that mindset, that winning mindset, I think played a big role." "By any standards this is a feat," Steven Beri, the forest’s acting public affairs officer, says of the survival, per KEZI. Crews noted it snowed in the area just last week. (More rescue stories.)

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