Gregory Randolph was near death with one of his dogs by his side when he was miraculously saved thanks to a cyclist who happened to be passing through the desert.
The 73-year-old had been out driving with his two canine companions last month when he decided to explore an area of the high desert in Lake County, Oregon. Unprepared for an emergency and without any cell service in the area, Randolph’s Jeep became stuck in a remote, dry creek bed in a narrow, roadless canyon.
Lake County, a sparsely populated area with less than one person per square mile, is largely made up of uninhabited scrub and cattle land. When authorities located Randolph’s Jeep, it was 40 miles from the nearest town.
After spending the first night in his vehicle, Randolph took the calculated risk of walking away from the site with his dogs, Cruella and Buddy. However, Buddy decided to return to the Jeep, perhaps wanting to get a drink from the muddy puddles that they had left behind.
After four days of walking through the exposed landscape with no protection from the elements, Randolph collapsed in the dirt, sunburned and dehydrated.
Thankfully, he was found by a cyclist from Portland named Thomas Quinones.
Quinones had been on a back-country mountain biking trip through the remote high desert when he thought he was approaching a dead animal. “I thought, that’s a funny-looking cow,” he told the Statesman Journal. As he got closer, he realized it was a man.
Randolph couldn’t talk or sit up, and he could barely drink the water that Quinones offered him.
“I started noticing that he sometimes would look at me, but his eyes were all over the place, almost rolling into the back of his head,” he told the news outlet. “Once I got a better look at him, I could tell that he was in deep trouble.”
Quinones recalled that he hadn’t had a cell phone signal for two days. Thankfully, the cyclist had prepared for his long-distance ride by packing necessities: a tent, water, food, protective clothing, and other emergency items—but most importantly, he had a GPS unit that could send a signal via satellite.
Quinones pushed the SOS button, set up his tent to provide some shade for Randolph, and then waited for help to arrive.
He was soon joined by Cruella, the tiny Shi Tzu, who had stayed faithfully nearby. Quinones and Cruella then shared some peanut butter from the cyclist’s bag and waited for over an hour until an ambulance whisked the man away to a hospital.
A sheriff’s deputy also arrived to take a statement and bring Cruella back to civilization in his car.
As Quinones continued on his trip, he noticed footprints that led him through the desert for four miles until they eventually disappeared from the road. As he crossed paths again with the sheriff leaving the area, he reported the footprints.
Oregon State Police used an airplane to locate the Jeep two days later, and found Buddy, in need of medical care, but alive, next to the vehicle.
“It’s still there. It very well could stay there forever. I don’t know how he got the Jeep in as far as he did,” Lake County Deputy Buck Maganzini told the news outlet.
It took Randolph three days in a hospital before he could sit up, eat, and have a conversation. It was later determined that he had walked about 14 miles through the remote desert lands before collapsing.
Thanks to the heroism and serendipitous intervention from Quinones, Randolph continues to recover safely at home with Cruella and Buddy by his side.
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