HOUSTON (KTRK/CNN) - A man in Texas who disappeared without a trace survived five days in the woods lying next to his car, after he crashed it and sustained serious injuries.
Jose Velazquez, 32, is recovering in the hospital from a collapsed lung and dehydration. He crashed his car Tuesday in the woods near Conroe, Texas, but no one knew at the time.
When Velazquez didn’t show up for work the next day, his family reported him missing.
Volunteers, including Alex Ybarra and a team of eight with Texas EquuSearch, spent several days searching for Velazquez in the Montgomery County woods, where the missing man’s cell phone had pinged.
The team was about 10 minutes away from stopping the search Sunday when Ybarra noticed a piece of white bumper in the brush. It led them to Velazquez and his white Honda.
"We stopped. We walked in to see what we could find," Ybarra said. "I could see the vehicle up ahead. It was overturned. You could see a different color. It was a grayish color. That's not something you see in the woods."
Velazquez was discovered lying next to the car. He had been thrown from the driver’s seat in the crash.
Ybarra says the man was in excruciating pain and seemed like he was having a hard time breathing.
"At first, he seemed lifeless," Ybarra said. "When he looked at me, he saw my eyes. I looked at him. He was like, 'Man, thank you for finding me. How long have you been looking for me? What day is it?'"
Texas EquuSearch founder Tim Miller says he has no idea how Velazquez survived so long in the heat without water.
“I don’t know how he [survived] the initial wreck, let alone as bad as he was injured five days later. To still be alive, that’s why we do what we do. We believe in miracles, and here was one today,” Miller said.
Velazquez is recovering at the hospital, where his family says he is alert and doing OK. He asked for juice boxes and food from Sonic. Getting his strength back will take time.