(NewsNation) — An 81-year-old man was found alive after being trapped in snow for nearly a week, with little to eat and only one blanket to stay warm. Jerry Jouret had last been heard from on Feb. 24, the day he set out driving from Big Pine, California to Gardnerville, Nevada.
The drive should have taken roughly three hours, but whiteout conditions and vehicle spinouts prompted the closure of certain parts of U.S. 395, which runs north to Gardnerville. He told his family he was going to take the smaller, alternate route of Highway 168, but somehow wound up on a different road and became trapped just 15 miles into the trip, according to Fox Weather.
When he didn’t arrive in the Tahoe area, his family reported him missing.
Inyo County Search and Rescue made two unsuccessful attempts to search for Jouret, whose vehicle was partially buried by a winter storm that dumped large amounts of snow on California.
The group used ground teams along with aerial searches from a helicopter before eventually using cellphone pings to triangulate an area near Death Valley National Park.
Rescuers finally found Jouret’s car, which could easily be mistaken from above for a one of many large rocks jutting out of the snow. Jouret was briefly treated at an area hospital before being released to his family. Jouret’s grandson, Christian Jouret, said his grandfather had only a thin blanket to stay warm.
Christian Jouret said family members warned him not to drive due to the impending storm, and were overjoyed to learn he had been rescued.
“GREAT NEWS! After 6 days and 6 nights of being trapped in a car under snow freezing with no food, water and a very thin blanket my Grandfather was rescued today by helicopter. I want to thank every single prayer warrior out there and the amount of love and support for my grandfather has been mind-blowing. The power of prayer is a force that cannot be stopped. Praise GOD!” he wrote on Facebook.
CNN reported the 81-year-old survived by conserving his car’s fuel by only turning it on for brief periods of time to warm up.
Joe Jouret told Patch that his brother Jerry survived the ordeal by surviving on some croissants he had in the car and eating snow.
“I just really believe it was a miracle,” Joe Jouret said.
After his rescue, Jerry Jouret was transported by ambulance to a local hospital and was released a few hours later, officials said.
“He was smiling all the way back to the airport,” Jouret’s brother Joe said. “He was happy to get out of that situation.”