A retired Frito-Lay salesman who went missing on September 2nd was found dead last week inside an overturned car at the bottom of a rural Utah ravine hundreds of miles from his Manhattan, Kansas home.

Why David Welch, 54, suddenly decided to drive away in his maroon Pontiac Montana without telling his family where he was going remains a mystery, but the Utah Highway Patrol believes he fell asleep at the wheel at some point the following day and careened off the road and into the ravine.

With the wreckage not visible from nearby Interstate 70, and with the closest town — Green River — about 50 miles away, Welch, who was gravely injured and unable to move, could do nothing but wait for his time to come.

Days, possibly weeks passed, before Welch finally succumbed to his wounds.

All the while his family refused to give up hope of finding him alive, asking friends to help out with the search and even launching a Find Dave Welch page on Facebook so that others could assist.

"Dear Dave, it has been 7 weeks since you left," the family wrote in a post published just one day before Welch was finally found on October 18th thanks to a hitchhiker who alerted the authorities.

The post continues:

Your wife, children and grandchildren miss you more than the sky is high. Your classmates and friends are concerned for your health and want to help. As we sit at home tonight with tears welling up; Our hearts aching, we wonder where you are.

Little did Kelly, Welch's wife of 32 years, and his four adult sons know, he was writing to them as well.

Along with his body, highway patrolmen also found a journal full of farewell letters Welch had spent his final days and hours writing.

The family has declined to comment on the content of the notes, but CNN has described them as "love letters."

[photos via UHP, Facebook]