The body of Jerry William McDonald, a 68-year-old man from Oregon, was discovered by Forest Service rangers on Thursday, tucked inside a sleeping bag in his truck. With him was the homemade calendar on which he chronicled his activities for the nearly 70 days he survived after a heavy snowstorm on Valentine's Day trapped his vehicle just four miles from the nearest town.
Authorities say McDonald, who was listed as not having a home address and was estranged from his family, had head out on February 7, probably to camp. The next entry on the calendar, dated February 14, read "Heavy snow. Snowed in." Then later, "Trapped, snowed in on 14th." The final entry came April 15, and only made note of the length of time he'd been there. Autopsy results list the cause of death as hypothermia and starvation.
The road McDonald was on was in a mountainous region and that would have been impassable by car after a blizzard. McDonald had gas and warm clothing but no food. There was evidence that he made a campfire, and that he tried to unstuck the vehicle by placing rocks under the tires — but none that he ever left to find help on foot.
That detail leaves many scratching their heads. What would lead a man to just sit there and journal his slow death, instead of attempting to make the trek back to safety? Perhaps he was legitimately trapped where he was. Or might it have been something as simple and sad as McDonald not believing he had a home to try and make it back to? [The Oregonian, photos via AP]