By Courtney Sherwood
PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - A U.S. Army veteran who drank from puddles to survive while lost for four days in the Oregon woods was found on Veteran's Day thanks to a hunter who heard his cries for help, and a rescuer who read about his plight online, authorities said.
Timothy Marsh, a 51-year-old veteran of the 1990s Gulf War who recently moved to Oregon, got lost and ran out of gas while driving near the coast on Saturday, the Yamhill County Sheriff's Office said in an incident report filed late on Wednesday.
His family reported that he was missing, the sheriff's office said. On Wednesday, Veteran's Day, a grouse hunter called emergency dispatchers to say he heard a cry for help, but could not trace the voice due to thick fog.
Search and rescue crews narrowed the probable source of the cry to the far side of a thickly wooded canyon, but they were unable to cross it, the report said.
Meanwhile, Keith Fritz, a local man trained in search-and-rescue operations but not initially involved in the response, ultimately made his way to Marsh after reading on social media about the search, the report said.
By the time Fritz reached him, Marsh was showing signs of hypothermia, disorientation and fatigue, it said. Marsh told deputies he survived by sharing dog food with his pet, drinking from puddles, and licking ice water off pine needles.
"This is an amazing outcome and the best case scenario we could hope for, especially for a veteran on Veteran's Day," Yamhill County Sheriff Tim Svenson said in a statement.
More than 250 people who visited forests and wilderness areas across Oregon from 1997 through 2014 were reported lost and remain missing today, though more than 1,000 people are successfully rescued from these remote areas each year, according to the state Office of Emergency Management.
Marsh was briefly hospitalized and then released later on Wednesday, authorities said.
(Reporting by Courtney Sherwood; Editing by Daniel Wallis and David Gregorio)