Man Drinks Wiper Fluid to Survive Desert Ordeal

Henry Morello, 84, rescued after five days in desert outside Phoenix, Ariz.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An 84-year-old Chicago native stranded in the Arizona desert for five days says he survived by drinking windshield wiper fluid.

    Henry Morello said he was trying to drive to his home outside of Phoenix when he took a wrong turn. He realized his mistake, attempted a U-turn and crashed into a ditch.

    Morello Describes His Ordeal

    [CHI] Morello Describes His Ordeal
    An 84-year-old Chicago native stranded in the Arizona desert for five days says he survived by drinking windshield wiper fluid. (Published Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011)

    "I tried to walk away but I fell down," he said.  "Then the battery went dead.  My phone went dead."

    For five days he says he sat and waited, using floor mats to stay warm during the cold nights. His only food was a plate of leftover pasta in his car, but he said it was too dry to eat.  Left with no water, he tried drinking windshield washer fluid to stay hydrated; a move not recommended by his doctors.

    Morello says he tried to keep a positive attitude, but by the fifth day he started to lose hope.

    "I said this is it. If i they don't find me by tonight I'm not gonna make it outta here," he recalled.

    Morello tried to make his own desert distress signal. He ripped a piece of chrome off of his car and put it on the roof, hoping it would catch the sun and someone's eye.

    His rescuers came in the form of a pair of hikers.

    "The guy looked like an angel to me. He knocked on the window.  Knock, knock, knock. Are you ok? I said who’s this?”

    Friends in Arizona and family here in Chicago helped organize a search party. The hikers who found him had seen the missing persons flyer.

    Morello’s nephew is a pastor at Saint Giles Parish In Oak Park. He flew out to Arizona to be by his uncle's side.

    "Miracles do happen, and don’t forget to get that message out there," said Father Carl Morello.

    Henry Morello said that despite the near death experience, he’ll most likely venture out that way again.

    "I’ll go back there, it’s my favorite restaurant. They got the best prime rib there is," he said.