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How did autistic man survive three weeks in Utah desert?

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - How in the world did William LaFever survive three weeks in the desert? That's the question everyone is asking today.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - How in the world did William LaFever survive three weeks in the desert? That's the question everyone is asking today.

“After three weeks, frankly there was little hope of finding him alive,” said Shane Oldfield, Utah Highway Patrol Helicopter Pilot.

The 28-year-old LaFever suffers from autism. Back in June, he began hiking from Boulder, Utah to Lake Powell. He was trying to get to Page, Arizona so his family could wire him money. For three weeks, he wandered roughly 50 miles along the Escalante River, finally he become so weak he couldn’t move.

"It is some of the most rugged, unforgiving terrain you will find anywhere on Earth, jagged cliffs, stone ledges, sandstone, sagebrush, juniper," said Garfield County Sheriff's spokeswoman Becki Bronson.

It's like William took a page out of Bear Grylls book.  He's the star of Discovery's hit show "Man vs Wild".  In an episode a few years ago, Grylls demonstrated survival skills in the Moab Desert. 

"The biggest killer in these deserts is heat stroke and dehydration and they both come on so quickly," said Grylls.

Lisa Lafever, William’s younger sister says he was found in the nick of time, "had it gone another day, with his condition, he wouldn't be here today."

Lisa says her brother was close to dying when he was spotted by UHP pilot Shane Oldfield. When we spoke with Oldfield he was shocked to find William alive.

"He was attempting to wave. It was pretty meager. He didn't have much strength left in him," said Oldfield.

LaFever said he survived on river water, eating roots and snacking on frogs.  Traveling along the Escalante River, LaFever had the most important factor covered...water.  This website gives you tips on finding water in the desert and how to conserve it once you have it. 

LaFever spent his days in the river and nights along the riverbank which helped him avoid extreme dehydration.

"If I've learned anything out here, it is just how fast this arid, parched, burning desert can sap the life out of you and, on your own, they say that only the strong and the lucky survive," Grylls said of the Utah desert.

If you plan on camping or going for a hike in the desert, HERE are a few more essentials for your trip.

Read more on LaFever's incredible story by clicking HERE.
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