No one expects to come across a life and death situation. But if you ever do, we can only hope that you act with the determination and dedication of educator John Utsey. This man proved that being a hero can be as simple as being in the right place at the right time and having the drive to make sure someone pulls through.
A late summer hike turned into a desperate search…
The story begins towards the middle of August when John Utsey and his children were hiking through the nature trails of Santa Fe. John’s daughter ran ahead and was out of sight with all the trees, so John called out to her. When his daughter shouted back, John was surprised to hear another voice call out in response.
John discovered a man who was quickly running out of time
John and his children spent some time calling back and forth to locate the source of the voice. What they found was an unidentified man who was lying in the woods desperate for help. Even without checking, John could tell that the man was in trouble. John describes the scene by saying:
“His lips were all chapped to the point he was bleeding…He was like, really gaunt and skinny. I’m like, ‘This guy really needs help'”
John acted fast to get help when he discovers the hiker’s situation
John and his family immediately rushed to go back through the trail until they found reception so they could call 911. While they waited for a response, John learned that the hiker had been traveling the trail when back problems forced him down. John also learned that the man had been waiting for 14 days and was surviving on sheer determination and filtered water from a nearby stream.
John realizes that he has to step in if the hiker was going to survive…
John and his family gave the fire department directions to the man and waited for the good news. But the fire department and rescue teams couldn’t find the man, so they eventually called off the search. We can imagine how nightmarish it had to be for John when he realized that the man was still out there and wouldn’t last long without help.
A teacher leads when it matters most
So John got on his hiking gear early the following day and marched out. He called 911 and waited for two separate teams so he could lead them directly to the hiker so they could rescue him.
Rescue teams found that the hiker was in a terrible state. They learned that he was nearly frostbitten because of the cold temperatures in Santa Fe, especially as close as he was to a running stream. So before they could move him, the teams had to warm him by an open fire.
Good news came for John, his family, and the hiker in need…
After warming the man, they wrapped him up in protective blankets and made the slow climb back down the trail to take him to a hospital. Recent reports are proud to say that the man is in recovery.
Right place, right time, and determination
John Utsey arrived on the scene at the right time to make a real difference. If he and his children hadn’t gone out to the woods that day then the hiker may not have made it through his terrifying ordeal. But the biggest part of the story is how willing he was to come to the rescuers help to make sure they could find the hiker.
It’s stories like these that are an incredible reminder that we still have heroes who will light our darkest hour.
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