A California couple has saved a man who was lost in the mountains for two weeks and survived on just half a jar of salsa.
Allison Scott and her boyfriend Freddie Valdiva spotted the survivor – named only as Eric – after he flagged them down with a water bottle on a stick.
The pair also heard him wailing as they trekked through the San Bernardino Mountains on Black Friday.
They said Eric told them he had gotten lost after taking a cab into the hills before hiking solo near Big Bear Lake.
His dramatic rescue was captured by the pair as a search and rescue helicopter was deployed to winch the three to safety.
Freddie Valdiva, left, with Eric, center, and Allison Scott, right, prior to the rescue
The couple had set up camp under a flight path when a plane ‘went by pretty low and we heard someone yelling for help,’ Scott said in her interview with ABC Los Angeles.
But they then heard screaming and spotted Eric’s makeshift flag to holler them down as they walked by.
In a separate interview with NBC Los Angeles, Scott said that it took the pair 30 minutes to get to Eric due to the terrain. He was waiting along a creek bed.’
Scott, a cosmetic tattoo artist in Redlands, said: ‘We end up finding him, and my boyfriend is looking over the ridge and calling out: ‘Hey I see you.”
Eric said that he was from Oceanside, halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, and around 130 miles west of Big Bear, according to ABC Los Angeles.
He also said that his only food was half a jar of salsa. Eric had been drinking water from a nearby creek. Experts say that the human body can go around four weeks without food.
Eric being hauled to safety, Allison Scott said that it only took around 15 minutes for a rescue helicopter to arrive at the scene after being called
‘He had a stick with a water bottle on it trying to signal. He couldn’t walk. His feet were extremely swollen and infected just from walking so much, and possibly the cold where he was,’ Scott added.
She continued: ‘When we did find him, he said: ‘It’s a Thanksgiving miracle.’ Scott said that she called 911 and within 15 minutes, a rescue helicopter arrived on the scene.
Scott told NBC Los Angeles that Eric said he had taken a cab into the mountains in order to hike.
She told the station: ‘He showed me the area where he was sleeping and the little home that he had built. He was pretty close to a creek and right under a flight path so he started camping out there hoping somebody would notice him and he said he had given up a few days prior.
Scott told NBC Los Angeles that Eric said he had taken a cab into the mountains in order to hike
Eric is shown being strapped up as a rescue worker prepares for him to be airlifted from the forest
Eric also tried to offer the couple money in exchange for the discovery but they refused.
Following the rescue, Scott said that she spoke to Eric. ‘He said he doesn’t have a cellphone. We have his landline phone and he said, ‘Whenever you’re in Oceanside, I’ll take you out to dinner. Just give me a call.” Scott said.
‘He also said: ‘I’m very sorry for putting a damper on your camping trip,’ and I said: ‘I’m just glad you’re okay. I’m glad we found you.’
Scott, a cosmetic tattoo artist, with her boyfriend
A post on Valdiva’s Instagram page shows Scott flagging down the helicopter. He wrote in the caption: ‘Great camping trip with Allison Scott. We found a lost/injured hiker and got him an airlift out.’
Scott elaborated a bit more on her Facebook page. She wrote: ‘Had a very interesting camping trip, heard a guy yelling for help when a helicopter flew over sO Alfred Valdivia Jr. and I went to find him, turns out he had been out there since the 11th.’
She continued: ‘I had just enough service on my phone and called 911 and we got a helicopter out to pick him up. They flew him to a road where an ambulance was waiting. Then we set up camp and made a delicious soup.’
The San Bernardino County Fire Protection District said in a statement that Eric was treated for ‘minor injures.’