In his 90 years, Paul Jones has had his fair share of close calls in B.C.’s outdoors.
There was the time he went over an eight-foot waterfall on the Nimpkish River in an inflatable raft.
Then there was the time his jeep failed while driving near the Cheekye-Dunsmuir power lines and he waved down a passing helicopter, which took him back to town.
Jones, a prolific conservationist, said his most harrowing experience came last week when he found himself stranded on a logging road on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast for three days — and is thanking two teens for helping save his life.
The 90-year-old was out for a drive in his new SUV looking for a shortcut to drive to Spipiyus Provincial Park. On his way back the sandy road gave way under his tires and he was left precariously balanced.
Instead of trekking out into treacherous terrain, he decided to stay put in his vehicle and wait for someone to pass by as the area is popular with hunters.
He waited for two nights. He had run out of water and only had a handful of cashews to eat. He had no cellphone and the car battery in his vehicle eventually died, leaving him shivering in the cold.
By dinnertime of the third day, Jones felt he was running out of time. It was then that Nolan Johnston and Jakob Thornton passed by on dirt bikes.
The two 16-year-olds found Jones tired and thirsty.
“I opened the door and he was laying back in the passenger seat,” Johnston said. “He could barely open his eyes.”
Johnston called for help and Thornton got back on his bike and found Jones some drinking water.
Ambulance crews eventually reached Jones, who has now largely recovered from the ordeal.
Johnston and Thornton have been hailed as heroes, even receiving a letter from Premier John Horgan commending them for “possibly saving a man’s life.”
“I don’t know if we should be called heroes,” Thornton said, saying the praise should go to the paramedics and firefighters who helped Jones.
On Tuesday, Jones met with Johnston and Thornton for the first time since the rescue and thanked them for their help.
He says the incident has renewed his faith in the younger generation.
“They’re really fine, upstanding young lads,” he said.
“If it wasn’t for them, I might have been toast. That was one of my nine lives perhaps.”