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Sacramento Man Lost for 5 Days in Woods; Rescued by Spelling ‘Help’ with Pine Needles

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Man attracts rescue worker attenion by speklling HELP with pine needles

Mike Vilhauer lost in wilderness, rescued by spelling HELP with pine needles. Photo courtesy YouTube Screen Capture

A man from West Sacramento, California went fishing in the wilderness and got lost. He spent a terrifying and grueling days alone wondering if he would make it alive and ever see his wife again.

Mike Vilhauer went fishing on Aug. 6. Since his luck was running low, he decided to try changing the bait he was using and set out to catch some grasshoppers. He had no GPS instrumentation and only had a topographical map to work with. Ultimately he discovered he was lost in the wilderness.

The 58-year-old man could not reach police or anyone else by cell phone as the signal was too weak. Though he repeatedly tried to find his way back, all of his attempts were unsuccessful. He resorted to drinking water from puddles and a few streambeds he stumbled upon. Willow branches and pine needles were used to build a makeshift shelter to help him stay warm.

Five days into his ordeal, Mike’s certainty that he would survive was beginning to wane. Unwilling to give up, he kept doing his best to stay alive. He could hear the search helicopters in the area. Using pine needles, he quickly cobbled together an 8-foot tall message that read “HELP” on the ground.

When Vilhauer appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, he thanked the rescue workers for all their efforts. He talked about how he began to lose hope toward the end and even wrote his wife a goodbye note on a piece of driftwood.
In spite of the difficulties he faced, Vilhauer says he would return to the area in the future. This time, he joked, he would bring a marching band. Perhaps so the rescue workers could hear him if he got lost again.

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