A West Jordan man says he survived two days stuck in his car without food in an isolated part of Southeast Idaho by building a fire in an abandoned farmhouse. 77-year old Paul Meiling said Wednesday that he was able to listen to the radio in his truck while he was stuck.
“I could get radio contact, obviously,” he said outside his home, “and I turned on the station I could find. It seemed like the only song that would play is ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’, which was positive and negative.”
Meiling was reported missing when he didn’t return from a trip to deliver books to Idaho State University in Pocatello. He says he got stuck after driving down a snowy side road on the way home. He decided to visit Daniels Reservoir, a place he described as a favorite summertime fishing spot.
“I got high centered, and actually got out of it once,” he explained. “I put down some tarps and things for some aggressive traction. But when I got high centered on it, why I had to spend the night, or two, or three, or four, or five or more.”
Meiling said he stayed warm in abandoned farmhouses and on Wednesday morning walked until he could get reception to call his son. Until that moment, he had some concerns for his safety.
“You can not not consider it. The temperatures were in the teens, maybe,” he said. “While there was gas left in the vehicle you don’t know how long that will last, try to preserve that. That is why I went into these houses to try to build a fire.”
Family members say he was dehydrated but otherwise healthy when he was found near Arimo, Idaho.
Bannock County, Idaho, Sheriff Lorin Nielsen told media that Meiling was lucky but warned people to heed forecasts of storms in the mountains.