(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) — A man in Alaska says it’s a miracle that he survived three days in the wilderness while battling sub-zero temperatures and a wolverine.
Craig Johnson was halfway through an 80-mile trek through remote Alaska on Dec. 15 when his snowmobile fell through the ice. He was on his way to visit family for the holidays.
“I almost gave up … But I couldn’t give up. I had to do it for my boys, my family,” he said. “I think it’s a miracle that I’m alive.”
Johnson, 38, said he had to crawl back to the thicker part of the ice as his snowmobile sank.
“Everything just happened so fast,” he said.
In his icy clothes, Johnson walked 30 miles searching for help while being stalked by a wolverine.
“You could hear it on the ice, just playing with me, toying with me,” he said.
After warning shots failed to scare off the animal, Johnson said he used a stick to defend himself. He then stumbled upon a wooden box that he used as shelter.
Johnson was reported missing and several rescue helicopters flew past him.
“That third night when they passed right by me – not even 200, 300 yards – that’s when I lost hope,” Johnson said. “I just laid back down in that box I was in. It just felt like that was an open grave for me.”
As the temperatures dropped to negative 35 degrees, a search team led by Clifford Benson, Johnson’s cousin, closed in.
“It doesn’t matter the conditions, I had to go. That’s my cousin,” said Benson.
Benson said the wind and snow erased nearly all signs of Johnson until he heard his cousin yelling.
“I’ve never heard someone yell like that anywhere,” said Benson.
“If Clifford didn’t saw me, that was going to be my last night,” said Johnson. They were going to bring me home in a body bag.”
Johnson was treated for frostbite. He said his will to survive was fueled in part by his father’s death in 1998 when he fell through the ice and drowned.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
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