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Paraplegic says he survived 3 days stranded in N.M. desert

Augusta Liddic / The Daily Times via AP

Ricky Gilmore shows a reporter the pair of jeans he was wearing when he dragged himself down a road near Tocito, N.M., last week.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A paraplegic man, who says he was stranded in the New Mexico desert without his wheelchair, dragged himself about four miles down a dirt road over three days before a motorist stopped to help him.

Tattered and dirty, Ricky Gilmore's blue jeans tell part of the story. His body tells the rest -- the skin on his left leg and buttocks is shredded, his wrist is sprained and his kidneys are in bad shape from going without food and water.

"Ah man, I'm just a big mess. I ache and I'm just in the first stages of healing," he told The Associated Press on Tuesday from his hospital bed at the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, N.M.

Gilmore, 49, is being treated for acute kidney failure from dehydration, a sprained wrist and a blood infection. He spent two days in intensive care and it could be at least another week before he can go home.

The Farmington Daily Times first reported Gilmore's story. The newspaper reported that Gilmore filed a report with the Shiprock Police Department. No officials at the department were immediately available to confirm details of the report.

Found on side of the road
Gilmore was found along a seldom traveled road on the Navajo Nation about 10 miles from his home in Newcomb, which is on the eastern side of the reservation.

Gilmore said he was dropped in the desert by a couple in a white truck who he met while he was hitchhiking on Oct. 16. He had invited them to his home for steaks and they later went for what Gilmore thought was going to be a joyride.

When he declined to share his alcohol with them, Gilmore said the man grabbed him by his feet and threw him out of the truck while parked along the desolate road.

“I did not want to fight back,” he told the Daily Times. “If I did fight back all hell would come loose. ... I know gangsters like that, they just that start clubbing away."

It was early evening and Gilmore had nothing -- no wheelchair, no food, no water, no coat -- to help him endure the flat desert scrubland.

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He said he spent the first night under a bush. But with the sunrise, survival mode kicked in.

Gilmore said he attempted to flag down at least two passing cars as he dragged himself along the road, but they only honked and kept going.

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Body temperature plummets
After spending a second night at the side of the road, Gilmore said he woke up sore and thirsty and did not want to move, but continued onward anyway.

On the third afternoon, a man in a blue pickup truck stopped and called for help. Gilmore said doctors told him his body temperature was 94 when he was found. Normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees.

He told the AP that his plan for when he gets released from the hospital was simple: "Go home and pray, take inventory and just get a good night sleep in my own bed and heal."

Read more on this story on NBC's Albuquerque affiliate KOBTV.com

Gilmore told the Daily Times that he had been hitchhiking for 19 years, ever since he lost the use of his legs in a motorcycle accident on his 30th birthday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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