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Hiker on rescuer: 'He's a great kid'

Man describes surviving 5 days on lava field in Hawaii

Peter Frank, left, helped rescue Gilbert Dewey Gaedcke.


CNN Access
Cable News Network (CNN)
Peter Frank
Carol Costello

(CNN) -- Hiker Gilbert Dewey Gaedcke's trip to paradise included a brush with death after he lost his way on a lava field near Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano.

Gaedcke was rescued after five days when Peter Frank, a teenager on a helicopter tour, spotted him. CNN's Carol Costello spoke Tuesday with Gaedcke and Frank about the ordeal.

COSTELLO: Oh, we have to start with you, Dewey. So you get out of your car one day and decide to go into the lava fields. How did you get lost?

GAEDCKE: Well, I was looking at a map that wasn't very detailed, and I thought I could walk straight back to the road and the car and the parking lot along the coast. And the road didn't end at the coast. And it was dark because that's the best time to see the lava, so I got turned around.

COSTELLO: And, you know, a lava field -- everything looks pretty much the same. So did you ever think you'd be out there for five days?

GAEDCKE: I sure hoped not.

COSTELLO: Tell us how hot it was.

GAEDCKE: Well, near the steam, near the lava -- the steam vents; it was quite hot. Other than that, it just, you know, sun on the rocks, kind of tropics hot. And then at night it was very cold.

COSTELLO: And there's no shade either so as you become dehydrated, you become disoriented. I have heard that you squeezed water from moss to survive because you had no water with you.

GAEDCKE: Yes. There's no place where water gets captured out there. And I was -- just got lucky. I was crawling through this dense jungle, licking drops of water off the leaves, and I put my hand on a tree and found something. It felt spongy. And that ended up saving my life.

COSTELLO: Did you know previously that if you squeezed moss that water would come out and be drinkable?

GAEDCKE: No. I just felt it. I accidentally put my hand on it and it felt moist, like a sponge. I had already -- I'd been a day and a half without water, and I had experienced how disoriented I had gotten and how bad my judgment had gotten.

And so I felt like, you know, getting sick from bad water in two or three days was better than dying in a day from no water. So I went ahead and risked it.

COSTELLO: But you had a pretty strong constitution because you happened to have a mirror, right?

GAEDCKE: I had a camera case with a mirror on it that I used every day to try to signal the helicopters.

COSTELLO: And you signaled more than one helicopter, and they flew by. That had to make you feel terrible.

GAEDCKE: Oh, yes. Eight or ten a day I tried to signal. But I could never -- the sun was never in the right place, or the helicopter was never in the right place, or there were clouds over the sun, and they were too high, etc. So it was frustrating.

COSTELLO: So then came along the helicopter with Peter inside. Peter, what did you see from way up there?

FRANK: It just looked like a little flash, like sun glinting off something metal. Pretty much.

COSTELLO: And so what did you say to the helicopter pilot?

FRANK: Well, I picked up the cabin microphone, and I just asked him if he knew what that flash down on the lava field was, and he said he didn't.

COSTELLO: Did he believe -- I mean -- did it take some convincing for you to say, you know, I think somebody's in trouble down there?

FRANK: Well, I didn't immediately jump to somebody's in trouble. I was more curious about what would be reflective down there. But he took me seriously, and he volunteered to -- and then we just went down and got a closer look.

COSTELLO: And they found Dewey down there. Dewey, what would you like to say to Peter at this point?

GAEDCKE: I just want to thank him for being so observant, for saving my life. And just really grateful to him. He's a great kid.

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