Man Survives 4 Days in Snowbound SUV

Jason Pede, a 31-year-old Indiana man, was stuck in his snow-covered SUV for three days, keeping himself hydrated with Mountain Dew and snow while staying warm in his car in southwestern Colorado. CBS

Thirty-one-year-old Jason Pede was on a rescue mission of sorts - taking an Australian shepherd rescue dog to a new home in Pueblo, Colo. But early on, his trip took a terrible turn.

On Thursday morning someone told Pede, of Chesterton, Ind., he could cut 100 miles off his trip by taking a rural road through the Rio Grande National Forest in Saguache County, Colo.

After driving seven miles and finding himself "nowhere," he decided to run back but then his Lincoln Navigator got stuck in several feet of snow.

"My truck slid off the edge of the road and into a big snowdrift, which held the truck at an even keel," Pede told CBS News. "I found myself with no cell phone service and no Internet."

He was trapped for three days.

Appearing on CBS' "The Early Show" Pede said he was a little "gun shy" about walking alone in the mountains because of the animal life - the Rio Grande National Forest is home to black bears and mountain lions.

Pede said he took lessons from the show "Survivor Man."

"The Discovery Channel is not a waste of money!" Pede told CBS News. "[It] totally helped me. In the show, it says you need to have a shelter and a way of staying warm, and if you have that you will survive.

"So I built a fire with a couple of lighters, and I used the lighter with gasoline and busted a chair and got dead wood and built a fire."

Pede had enough gas to run his engine for three days, surviving on soft drinks his kids had left behind, as well as some sugar free cookie wafers "that were horrible to eat."

"I always get mad at the kids for leaving stuff in the car, but I was grateful for that!" he said.

Pede told CBS that he wrote two letters - one to his wife, and one to whomever found him - if they found him dead.

Back home, Amanda Pede had all but lost hope. "I was prepared for the worst, I really was," she said.

She told CBS News the last she'd heard from her husband was at 10 a.m. Thursday: "He said it was snowing and he was behind a plow truck which was delaying him. By 1pm I tried to call him again . . . but I kept getting his voicemail. I was completely panicking."

She posted a message on Facebook saying Jason had gone missing in the Colorado mountains, and asked people to "say a little prayer for me."

(CBS)
On Sunday morning Jason started up the truck and heard on Sirius Satellite Radio about the bad weather in the East Coast and Los Angeles. "And I thought, I gotta get out of here.'"

Pede left his SUV and the dog, hiking seven miles ("That was my only way of not dying, I guess").

He said he knew how far he had to go: "I'd searched the GPS from where I was at to where I needed to get back to."

He walked seven miles from his truck to the road, "and at first I didn't see any tire marks on the road, and my heart fell," he told CBS.

"And then I looked the other way and finally saw some cars on the road and I turned into a blubbering little girl and fell on the ground because it was too much to take in at that point."

He described the intense feeling he felt upon being rescued to "Early Show anchor Maggie Rodriguez: "My whole body just wanted to shut down and not do anything else 'cause I'd forced it to walk so far. As soon as I'd seen those people, that's just what I thought: You're rescued, you don't need to fight no more.

"I just wanted to drink water, I didn't even want anything to eat, because the ice I had been eating was burning my gut because it wasn't enough, and I had terrible stomach acids that were eating up my stomach," Pede said.

His first request was to go back and save the dog which had almost died. "By the last day he wasn't moving much." He now is trying to reunite the dog with its owner.

Later that night, there was a tearful reunion with his family at the Colorado Springs airport.

"I'm just sooo relieved and so happy and so grateful for everyone's help," Amanda told CBS News.

"So, are you going to take short cuts in the future?" asked Rodriguez.

"No, ma'am. Asphalt only!" Pede laughed.


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