COUGAR, Wash. – An Ohio man missing near Mount St. Helens for nearly a week survived on bees and berries, said his parents.
Matthew Matheny, 40, was found in Ant Canyon just before 10 a.m. Wednesday. He was treated on scene before he was taken by helicopter to a Vancouver hospital.
According to his parents, he suffered some scratches along with dehydration, but is in remarkable shape after spending six nights in the wilderness without water, food or other supplies.
“He’s pretty overwhelmed at the rescue,” said Matthew’s mother, Linda Matheny. “He had reached a point where he had seen no one since last Thursday, and he really started thinking this could be it.”
Matheny was in Washington visiting friends and had borrowed a gray Subaru Outback Thursday to explore the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument area. He was reported missing when he didn’t return from the day trip. He was wearing shorts and flip-flops.
A Skamania County deputy found the borrowed Subaru Outback at the trailhead on Saturday, prompting a massive search and rescue response of several agencies and a couple hundred volunteers.
The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday said searchers had found Matheny ‘conscious and alive’ on the flanks of Mount St. Helens.
North Country EMS Chief Shaun Ford treated Matheny before he was put in the helicopter.
“I started an IV on him,” Ford said. “I gave him IV fluids and we talked how he was doing.”
Ford said the ravine Matheny was in was steep and about 10 feet down.
“It’s very incredible that he survived,” Ford said. “The fact that he was in such good condition made it a lot easier to do the work at hand.”
Ford said Matheny’s location was probably a four-hour walk from where the car was parked at the Blue Lake trailhead, but only about a half mile from a trail that would have taken him to a popular road leading to the Climber’s Bivouac of Mount St. Helens.
Of course, Matheny didn’t know where he was, and had decided to stay put after walking for several days.
“He didn’t have the energy to walk back up to the top to try to get to a trail,” Ford said.
Speaking from the hospital Wednesday afternoon, Carney and Linda Matheny said their son is a nurse and was a Boy Scout as a kid.
“He is interested in nutrition and health,” Linda Matheny said. “We think that may have saved him.”
Linda said she and her husband couldn’t believe it when they arrived at the hospital Wednesday and saw their son sitting up in his bed and getting fluids.
They say he survived by killing and eating bees and scavenging for berries.
“He never found water, but the berries must have had enough fluid to keep him going,” Linda said. “He’s scratched up, his feet are kind of a mess, his flip-flops broke,” Linda added.
They say Matthew’s friends were working on the day he went missing, so he decided to spend a casual afternoon in the mountains.
“He had no idea how turned around he could get, how prepared people have to be,” Linda said.
The pair said their son is a private person and would not likely speak about his experience in public.
Mostly, Matheny’s parents just want to thank all the volunteers and other rescuers who looked for their son.
“These people never gave up,” Linda said. “We’re just so grateful to everyone we encountered. ‘We could not ask for more.”
Linda and Carney were at base camp when Matthew was found Wednesday morning.
The sheriff’s office has not released any additional details about the rescue or search operations. Deputies say more information will be released at a later time.