PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – People who spotted tire tracks leaving a roadway led to the rescue of a 56-year-old man who had been reported missing five days before in Washington state.
After a 911 call came in around 9:30 a.m. Sunday, crews from Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue responded and spotted a green pickup truck on its wheels about 150 feet down a steep and wooded ravine. Firefighters made their way through waist-deep brush and found the man, later identified as Danny Sansbury, alive but seriously injured and ill, authorities said in a release.
“I looked down there, and I still can’t believe he survived for six days like that,” said Terri Peck, who said she has known the man for 30 years.
“So, when he came up missing, we all just went, ‘There’s definitely something wrong. There’s something wrong,'” Peck said. “I said, ‘I know he is in a ravine. He has to be.’ There was no other explanation. So, I started looking for him up and down a couple of ravines, and then they said they found them on Sunset [Way].”
Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Joe Tone says before the man was found, there was even suspicion that a crime may have been committed.
“They had no idea where the gentleman was at, and we were going down that typical missing persons-type path until the citizen – local – found the car,” Tone said.
Rope rescue teams from the Longview Fire Department were called to help. Extra fire trucks were brought to the scene to help get Sansbury up the hillside after he was removed from the pickup.
“Being down there for five days — not eating, drinking — that definitely played effect with his injuries from the accident,” Lt. Andy Worth, of Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue.
Once up the hill, an ambulance took him to a school, where he was airlifted by Life Flight to Peace Health Southwest for emergency care.
Officials said the rescue took only an hour from the time he was spotted to the moment he was airlifted. But after five days in the elements, Peck said, the rescue couldn’t have come fast enough.
“I just want to cry to death, just knowing that he was here for six days by himself. You know, it’s really hard to think that he was down there,” she told Nexstar’s KOIN. “I don’t know if he was upside down or what, but we all knew that somebody had to get to him quickly because we knew he wasn’t going to have much more time.”
Sansbury was in critical condition. The cause of the crash is under investigation.