The instinct to survive is our most powerful drive as humans, and when faced with a life-threatening situation, our bodies will do absolutely anything to keep us alive.
In late April 2018, a truck driver from Oregon mysteriously disappeared while driving a shipment to a town near the Idaho border. For 4 days, his body was pushed to the limits as he fought to make it home alive, but even when he faced starvation, there was 1 thing he refused to do…
Life On The Road
For years, a 22-year-old Oregon man called Jacob, worked as a truck driver to support his wife and their 2 kids. The job involved driving across the country for months at a time, and in the beginning, Jacob was happy to make the sacrifice to be able to provide for his family.
Missing Out On Life
However, over time, the months on the road started to drain Jacob, who hated being away from his wife and their 2 young kids. The father-of-2 hated feeling like he was missing out on his kids’ childhood, and when he found out his wife was expecting their 3rd child, he knew he didn’t want to miss out on more of such a precious time…
The New Job
Jacob quit his job and applied to work for Little Trees Transportation, a smaller transportation company owned by Roy Henry, that runs shorter routes mainly throughout the Pacific Northwest and would allow Jacob to spend his weekends at home with his family at their home in La Grande, Oregon.
A Family Man
“That was the reason he wanted to come to work for me,” Henry explained. “He said, ‘I have kids at home, man. I want to be home with my kids.’” Henry hired Jacob, and in just a few weeks, Jacob proved himself to be a star employee…
The Perfect Employee
According to Henry, the 6’6” loving family man was always happy to work and always showed up on time, which is why he started to get worried when Jacob never arrived in La Grande, Oregon at 8:45 p.m. like he was supposed to in order to refuel.
Jacob was transporting a shipment from Portland to Nyssa, Oregon, in late April. However, when he failed to show up at the scheduled refueling stop at 8:45 in the evening, Henry decided to check the truck’s GPS to see where he was. What he saw on the map, however, didn’t make any sense…
Checking The GPS
The GPS tracking showed Jacob had stopped at a truck stop for a short break before getting back on the road. After that, Jacob left Interstate 84 and turned south onto Highway 395, which was concerning for a variety of reasons. Not only was Interstate 84 the fastest, most direct route to the refueling station, but trucks and trailers are not allowed on Highway 395.
An Alarming Move
“The fact that he turned off in Pendleton is odd, if not alarming. It doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Henry, who tried to call Jacob to tell him he was going the wrong way. Because Jacob was outside of cell service, Henry’s call went straight to voicemail. After a few hours, Jacob should have reached an area with cell service, but he never did…
The Missing Person
Henry called the police and reported Jacob missing. Police went to the remote location on Highway 244 where GPS last tracked the truck and Jacob’s phone, but when they arrived, there was no sign of the 22-year-old or the truck. At that point, Jacob was officially listed as a missing person.
Support From The Community
Over the next few days, Henry and other locals from the Oregon town went out in search of Jacob by driving all of the routes he could have taken that day. “The community support we’ve gotten is nothing short of overwhelming,” said Henry, who only cared about finding his employee, who was set to become a father for the 3rd time at any moment…
Vanished Without A Trace
“I have insurance for the load. No amount of insurance is going to replace him,” Henry said. According to the police, the area that the GPS last traced Jacob and the truck was densely wooded and the terrain was extremely rough. So when there was no trace of Jacob 4 days later, everyone started to fear that there may have been an accident.
Coming Home To A Miracle
On the morning of the 4th day that Jacob was missing, his wife had gone to a meeting with local officials to discuss their next steps. When she got home, however, she found Jacob’s shoes at the door and found him inside putting flip flops on. The first thing Jacob told her was that he was hurting and freezing, so she rushed him to Grande Ronde Hospital to be evaluated…
Where The Trouble Began
While on the way to the hospital, Jacob’s wife notified police, who met them in the emergency room. When his boss and several officers arrived, Jacob started explaining that he accidentally put the wrong destination address in the GPS when he started the trip.
Correcting His Mistake
When Jacob followed the GPS instructions to take an exit south off of Interstate 84, he knew that wasn’t right and realized his original mistake. At that point, Jacob put the correct destination into the GPS and assumed he would be back on his way in no time…
When the GPS instructed Jacob to turn onto a U.S. Forest Service road, he didn’t question the directions. However, as he drove down the snowy road, it became narrow and unpaved. At one point, the truck started sliding out toward a steep embankment.
Jacob knew it was too dangerous to try and move the truck any further and grabbed his phone to call for help. When he saw that there was no cell service, however, he realized he was going to leave the truck behind and try to walk back to the main road…
36 Miles Later
Jacob started walking just after midnight on a Wednesday without any food or water and didn’t stop until Saturday morning when he reached Interstate 84. Jacob then flagged down a driver, who drove him the rest of the way home. In total, Jacob walked about 36 miles through deep snow and freezing temperatures. Jacob’s kidneys started to fail, however, it was a miracle that he wasn’t more injured. “He’s a big boy. He kept moving and stayed warm enough,” Nursing supervisor Danita Thamert said. “It doesn’t look like he’s going to have too many injuries.”
“What it boils down to is a simple matter of human error,” said Henry, who was just thrilled Jacob was home safe. “He made the proper effort to correct his mistake. From that point on, it was out of his control. He had no reason to believe the GPS was wrong…”
Sheer Will And Determination
“He told me the last night: He wedged himself under a log and the ground to stay warm and stay out of the elements. it was pretty much just sheer will and determination that got him out,” said Henry. However, the most unbelievable part of the story is that Jacob was driving a shipment of potato chips and he didn’t take any with him even though he nearly starved.
Honorable To The Very End
When Henry asked why he wouldn’t take the one source of food available to him, Jacob told him it wasn’t his to take. “That’s worth money. That’s the load I was hauling and I didn’t want to damage the property,” Jacob said. “That’s the way he was raised, that stuff’s not yours, you don’t touch it,” Henry added.