MENDOCINO COUNTY (KTVU/JEREMY PENAFLOR/MENDOCINO COUNTY SEARCH AND RESCUE/CNN) - A 72-year-old hunter survived 19 days after getting lost on a hunting trip.
Lost in the wilderness for 19 days - injured and dehydrated - Gene Penaflor, 72, survived.
"I didn't panic because panic would kill me right away, I knew that," Gene Penaflor said.
Gene Penaflor vanished in the Mendocino National Forest in northern California.
He was on a hunting trip, got separated from his partner and then suffered a serious fall.
"In the process of falling straight down, I thought my kneecap was broken. After that - all dead - went dead I pass out," Gene Penaflor said. "I don't know how long."
When he finally woke up he was disoriented, suffering a head injury.
He was stranded in the middle of nowhere, forced to eat lizards, frogs and squirrels to stay alive.
"In the process of several days the three squirrels were dead because of me," he said.
He scavenged water from a drainage source.
He huddled under logs to stay out of the snow and rain.
And, kept warm by making fires using leaves and grass.
Meanwhile, Gene Penaflor's family spent every single one of those 19 days praying he was still out there, still alive.
"Nineteen days I know was nothing for him. I knew he was there," said Jeremy Penaflor, Gene Penaflor's son.
Rescue teams had been searching for Gene Penaflor for weeks.
But he was finally found on Saturday by a group of hunters at the bottom of a ravine.
By then, Gene Penaflor could no longer walk on his own. He had to be carried on a makeshift stretcher.
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