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Posted: September 25, 2015

Man crawls three miles to safety after breaking leg

By WSBTV - Atlanta

BOISE, Idaho —

Information for this story from the Press Enterprise newspaper.

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Stranded in Idaho's back country with a badly broken leg, John Sain had pretty much given up hope.

"I thought that I wasn't going to make it," Sain told Press Enterprise newspaper on Thursday. "The terrain was too rough, my leg was broken, [and] my foot was up to my rib cage."

What kept Sain alive through the four-day ordeal, he said, was his love for his wife, Jennifer, and their children, Brooke and Cole.

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With that, he mustered the willpower to crawl miles to a trail, where he eventually was saved.

"The main reason I fought to get out was for my family and by the grace of God," Sain said. "That was the fuel that got me out of there."

Sain is recovering from his injuries at a hospital in Boise, Idaho. He says he’s thankful to be alive, but traumatized by what had happened.

Sain, 50, a lifelong hunter, says he tries to make it to either Idaho or Montana for a hunting trip. He usually goes alone.

Last week, he traveled to northwest Idaho to go bow hunting in elk country. Sain backpacked about 6 miles into the back country, where he set up camp Wednesday night.

While hiking the next day, Sain's foot got stuck under a log. Both bones in his lower leg broke, leaving him with his foot bent upward.

He had no cellphone service, and was miles away from anyone else. He did have a little food, a water purifier and a small survival kit, and he built a fire each night for warmth.

At one point, despair set in. Sure he would not survive, he wrote letters to his wife and children, and began to consider his options – among them, suicide.

"I thought I was going to die, and I decided that I wasn't just going to take my life right there," Sain said.

He realized his only chance was to crawl toward a trail, so he fashioned a splint for his leg and set off.

It took him two agonizing days to reach the trail 3 miles away, crawling through brush that further injured him.

After almost giving up again, Sain says two motorcyclists appeared. The riders turned out to be lost, Sain said. He believes they were the answer to his prayers.

"It was such a relief," Sain said. “I prayed the whole time.”

The riders immediately gave Sain water, and one of them went to an area where they could call 911. After the riders cleared a landing for a helicopter, paramedics rescued Sain. He was air-lifted to a hospital in Boise, where he called his wife before going into surgery.

John said he plans to go hunting again, although probably not this season. And while he’d still go alone, next time he’ll bring a satellite phone or GPS locator.


John Sain

John Sain

John Sain, of Riverside, is met by his wife, Jennifer and children Brooke and Cole while hospitalized in Boise, Idaho. The 50-year-old said his love for his family helped him muster the willpower to crawl miles to safety after being stranded in rural Idaho. (PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER SAIN)
John Sain

John Sain

After almost giving up again, Sain says two motorcyclists appeared. The riders turned out to be lost, Sain said. He believes they were the answer to his prayers.

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