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California man, 72, survives 19 days in the wilderness by eating squirrels

By Mason White 1:01 PM October 22, 2013
Gene Penaflor 

By: Shifra Unger
(Scroll down for video) A man is lucky to be alive after being lost for 19 days. He survived thanks to his courageous decision to eat squirrels, according to emergency workers in California.

The 72-year-old man said he survived 19 days eating lizards, frogs and squirrels.

Gene Penaflor was found on Saturday, after he disappeared in the Mendocino National Forest in northern California. He was on an annual hunting trip.

“He goes hunting every year, and he comes home every year,” his daughter-in-law Deborah Penaflor said on Monday, outside her San Francisco home.

“We had gotten a little complacent because he would always return,” she said.

He separated from his hunting partner for a couple of hours to hunt deer. During that time, he hit his head and passed out.

He woke up after being unconscious a full day, with his chin and lip badly slashed. He saw the fog and dew associated with mornings and realized that he had been out for a while.

He survived by eating squirrels and other animals that he killed with his rifle, and he drank water from a drain. He huddled under logs to stay out of the snow and rain, and kept warm by making fires with leaves and grass.

The search resumed on Saturday, and a group of hunters found Penaflor when someone in the group heard a voice calling for help from the bottom of a canyon. He was found about 3 miles from where he disappeared.

When his family learned he had been found alive, they went to the mountains to join him.

“There were tears of joy at the top of that mountain,” Deborah Penaflor said.