As It Happens

Mountain biker rescues 73-year-old man lost for days in Oregon's remote high desert

An Oregon mountain biker is being called a hero after he found a barely conscious man in the remote high desert.

Tomas Quinones called first responders to the area using an SOS device

Tomas Quinones set up his tent to help shield the man's face from the sun. (The Associated Press)
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Transcript

When Tomas Quinones first spotted a man lying alone in the desert, he thought it was a dead cow.

The avid mountain biker was on day six of a seven-day trip in Oregon's remote high desert and had already seen several dead cows on his journey along the trail — but this turned out to be different. 

"As I got closer, I realized it moved and it was actually a person," Quinones told As It Happens guest host Megan Williams.

Quinones found the man in rough shape. He was badly sun-burned and covered in dust.

"Adrenaline was pumping pretty fast," he said.

Tomas Quinones on day two of his weeklong biking trip in Oregon. (Submitted by Tomas Quinones)

Quinones managed to give the man some water and he kept asking him questions. He didn't get much of a response — other than some grunts. 

"He couldn't really look at me. His eyes were just kind of all over the place," he said. "He was shaking uncontrollably and that's when I noticed he had a bracelet that said he was a diabetic."

Quinones set up his tent next to the man and tried to give him some shade.

Two days after Tomas Quinones found a man on the ground in the high desert, Oregon State Police found his abandoned Jeep. (The Associated Press)

Earlier in his trip, Quinones had spotted the occasional rancher. But at this point, he hadn't seen anyone all day and he didn't have any cellphone reception.

Thankfully, he did have a spot tracker — so he decided to press SOS and hope for the best.

"There was no help anywhere nearby and I had no idea how long it would take for anybody to get out there," Quinones said.

"The best I could do at that point was just try to give him water until help arrived."

While he was waiting for help, Quinones discovered the man wasn't travelling alone.

"I heard a rustling in the bushes," he said. "Out pops this tiny little shih tzu, you know, covered in burrs and other prickly stuff from the bush and just whining — and desperately, desperately wanting water."

First responders eventually arrived and took the man and the dog away. 

Days later, Quinones would learn more about the man — 73-year-old Gregory Randolph.

"The deputy called me back to let me know that this guy was recovering and his vehicle had got stuck about eight miles or so north of where I found him," Quinones said.

"He got stuck on Sunday, spent the night in his vehicle, and then Monday morning started walking south to the highway to try to wave down a vehicle.

"I found him on Thursday, so he'd been out in the sun for at least three days."

Oregon State Police said they used an airplane to spot Randolph's Jeep two days after the rescue on July 20. His second dog had stayed at the site and was also alive.

The dog may have gotten some water from mud puddles in the creek bed, Lake County Deputy Buck Maganzini said.

Gregory Randolph's shih tzu stayed by his side in the Oregon desert. (Oregon State Police/Facebook )

Quinones says he still hasn't spoken to Randolph but he is happy to know that he is making a full recovery.

"I just happened to be the guy that just happened to come along," Quinones said.

"He was there and needed assistance so I did whatever I could. I'm just glad he's alive and doing well."

Written by John McGill. Produced by Katie Geleff. With files from Associated Press.

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