WEST JORDAN, Utah — It’s the best Christmas present one Utah family could have hoped for.
A 77-year-old man missing for two days after he got stuck in a mountainous area in southeast Idaho during a snowstorm has been found safe.
Utah police confirmed Wednesday that Paul Meiling was found alive and well near Hawkins Reservoir in Idaho and has been reunited with family, according to KSTU-TV.
On Monday, Meiling drove to Idaho State University to donate books, his family said, and they became worried when he didn’t come home and stopped answering his phone.
His family told the Idaho State Journal on Wednesday that Meiling had decided to drive past some of his favorite fishing spots on the way back home, but his 2010 Toyota Tundra became stuck in the snow, just as a storm was arriving.
With no cell reception, Meiling, who suffers from heart problems, had no choice but to weather the storm in the freezing cab of his truck and wait for help, the newspaper reported.
On Wednesday, Meiling decided to strike out on his own, trudging through the snow for five miles until he reached a place where his phone worked, his family told the Idaho State Journal.
Rescuers managed to locate Meiling on Wednesday morning, but the 77-year-old refused to go to the hospital, saying he felt fine and just wanted to get back home.
Friends and family of Meiling posted the happy update in the Find Paul Meiling Facebook group.
Family member Melanie Meiling Bruse posted: “Our hearts are full of gratitude for so many prayers and help. You provided our miracle. Love and hugs to all and merry Christmas.”
Another person wrote: “Gives added meaning to ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas.’ So happy for your good news! Merriest of Christmases to your whole family.”