By Howard Pankratz
The Denver Post
POSTED: 02/09/2010 01:00:00 AM MST
Jason Pede of Indiana stayed in his SUV while stuck in the Rio Grande forest.
An Indiana man survived three days in his SUV stuck in deep snow in the Rio Grande National Forest before he managed to make his way to a road Sunday morning to get help.
Jason Pede stayed in his Lincoln Navigator, surviving on soft drinks and melted snow until his gasoline — and engine heat — ran out.
He then left the safety of his sport utility vehicle, fearing a night in the cold.
He made it through the melting snow to a more-traveled road 7 miles away, where passers-by helped him.
The ordeal started Thursday morning, when Pede and an Australian shepherd dog he was on his way to deliver got stuck trying to find a shortcut to Aspen through the Rio Grande Forest in Saguache County, west of Pueblo.
A woman in Pueblo had adopted the dog from a rescue group in California. Pede was going to Pueblo via Aspen, where he was to pick up some cats for delivery in Davenport, Iowa. He never made it to Aspen.
Pede, 31, says he watches television survival shows. The one lesson he has learned is to stay with the vehicle. So from Thursday morning until Sunday morning — when the last of his gas ran out — he and the dog stayed in the vehicle. They drank a couple of cans of soda, a bottle of water his kids had left in the car and snow that he melted with a fire made from eight chairs that he was delivering to a woman in Topeka, Kan.
When the gasoline ran out, Pede said, he knew he had to try to walk out. The weather wasn't bad; the sun was out. He thought he would freeze to death with temperatures dipping to 6 degrees at night if he stayed in a non-heated vehicle.
He started walking. Much to his surprise, as he headed down the mountain, he found a lot of the heavy snow had melted in the days he had been stuck in the forest.
Walking wasn't that difficult, although the altitude got to him, and he had to rest.
Seven miles down the road, he came across another road, and there he saw a convoy of five vehicles. He waved his flashlight at them and collapsed. Rescuers then took him back to retrieve the dog, whom Pede eventually did deliver to its new owner in Pueblo.
Back in Indiana, Pede's wife, Amanda, was thankful, as were the couple's three children — Alexis, 11; Roslyn, 6; and Tegan, 4.
"He is a good man, and a good dad. I couldn't imagine a day without him," said Amanda Pede.
As for Jason Pede, he said, "You are darn right I feel lucky to be alive. But it won't sink in until I hold my wife."
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Tags: snow survival, SUV, rio grande national forest
Location: Denver, Colorado, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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