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Colombian stuck in swamp lived on urine, stems

Colombian stuck in swamp lived on urine, stems

The 65-year-old head of a university tried to make his way back to the trail but got lost.

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Marrero: The 65-year-old head of a university in Colombia said Thursday that he ate a few plant stems and drank urine to survive four days stranded in a Louisiana swamp.

Francisco Piedrahita of Universidad Icesi in Cali, was spotted Wednesday from a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office helicopter in a clearing several hundred yards from the trail where he had gone Saturday to photograph brightly colored male wood ducks. He left the end of Wood Duck Trail in search of a pond that he later learned had dried up, he said.

The walk in the park "looked like no risk at all" but he was worried about losing his cell phone, so he had left it in the safe at his hotel, he told reporters just before leaving West Jefferson Medical Center on Thursday.

He tried to make his way back to the trail, then to where he thought the parking lot was, and to traffic he heard on a nearby highway.

He tried to use palmetto trees and white-flowered shrubs as markers, but they petered out. He found himself in a swamp.

"When it was this deep, it is a big problem," he said, holding his hands about a foot apart. "But when it is this deep" - his hands closer to 2 feet apart - "it is difficult."

For most of the four days Piedrahita said, he followed the rule for lost people - stay in place. He said he spent most of the time on an island - "a log and raised mud" - about 3 1/2 yards long.

He made a remarkably quick recovery from dehydration, exposure, muscle loss, some gastrointestinal and kidney problems resulting from no water and little food, said Dr Roberg Chugden, head of the hospital's emergency department.

Piedrahita plans to return to Colombia on Sunday.


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