Hunter shares story of survival in Oregon wilderness

Hunter shares survival story after rescue

PORTLAND, Ore. -- For three days and three nights, he was lost and alone in the rugged terrain of the Mount Hood National Forest.

But even with the threat of freezing temperatures and snow, 34-year-old Nick Benim never gave up hope.

Out of the hospital and back with his wife Selena and two of his five children, Nick Benim sat down with us to share his story of survival.

It started with an annual camping and hunting trip at Hideaway Lake, east of Estacada. It's a place Nick has been to many times.

So on that Sunday, when he walked too far ahead of his hunting partner, he wasn't worried.

He followed a trail back, only to realize it was the wrong trail. Then he lost his footing and fell down a steep slope.

Nick found himself lost and alone as night fell.

"The first night I built a fire and I had a solar blanket so I was able to keep warm," Nick said. "I didn't sleep much that night but I kept the fire going all night."

The next day, Monday, Nick says he walked to a clearing and waited hoping searchers would find him.

But he had gone too far. Searchers from counties across Oregon were looking for him, but not in that area.

Nick found shelter under some fallen logs for the night. He had a backpack with some extra clothes but little food or water.

"I drank creek water which probably wasn't the best thing, but it kept me alive," he said.

The following day, he fell into a stream and spent the day drying his clothes. Wet and cold, he walked roughly eight miles.

Finally he saw something he thought could lead him to safety.

"I ended up seeing a couple deer and ended up following their path and when I followed their path it lead me to the road," he said.

Forest service employee Mike Burri just happened to be driving along that road and saw Nick waving him down.

"I'm very thankful he was there that day," he said.

Nick said his feet are still swollen from the journey.

He is still tired, but he is grateful for all those who put their lives on hold to save his.

"Thank you to everyone who prayed and searched for me," he said. "I was never really alone I guess."

© 2017 KGW-TV


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