A 92-year-old motorist is recovering after spending a night in freezing conditions in eastern Oregon last week.
Larry Hendrickson and his wife, Shirley, were driving from Yuma, Arizona, back to their home in Newport, Washington, on Nov. 7, according to Oregon State Police.
Shirley was driving a U-Haul while Hendrickson was behind her in their family car when they both stopped “somewhere around Baker City in northeastern Oregon” to deal with a tire issue on the U-Haul, according to CNN.
Shirley kept both cellphones and attempted to get help while Larry drove further down the highway in hopes of finding a tire shop, she told the network.
Shirley told CNN the tire got fixed, but when Larry didn’t return, she decided to head home around 8 p.m.
“It was dark, and I knew there was no way I was going to be able to find him,” Shirley said. “And I had both cellphones … because I’d been calling tow truck companies and U-Haul, so when he took off, he didn’t have his phone.”
Shirley asked friends to leave notes for her husband in case he showed up at the house before her, but he wasn’t there when she got home around 3:30 a.m.
That’s when she called the Oregon State Police, who found Larry’s car with the key still in it a few hours later.
But Larry Hendrickson wasn’t in it.
“I think in the dark he got upset and confused and went off someplace where he didn’t know where he was at, and at some point in time, he just kind of stopped and fell asleep in the car,” Shirley told CNN. “We don’t know what happened then, because the trooper said that the car had run for a while because part of the windshield was unfrozen.”
The overnight temperatures dropped into the 30s.
However, after the sun rose, State Troopers found her husband, who had fallen down an embankment. Larry Hendrickson was covered in vegetation but was still conscious and breathing.
Officers gave first aid until emergency medical responders arrived and took him to a hospital.
Shirley Hendrickson told CNN that her husband was out of the hospital after two days but is still “suffering from the effects of the hypothermia” and “can’t walk very well; everything hurts.”
She added: “He’s 92 years old. It’s a miracle that he made it.”
Oregon State Police Capt. Kyle Kennedy is “grateful” for the positive outcome but hopes it reminds others that “cold weather exposure can be life-threatening and another night in these conditions may have been fatal.”
Kennedy encourages motorist to “make sure others know their travel plans and intended route in the event of unexpected travel-related complications.”