Being lost for 5 days may have saved Longview man’s life


by Mike Benner, KGW Staff

Posted on December 14, 2013 at 2:34 PM

LONGVIEW, Wash -- A Longview man’s week stranded in the wilderness may have saved his life.

Dick Sturm went missing Sunday. He left his daughter’s home in Castle Rock, but never arrived at his in Longview.

“You have all kinds of things going through your head,” said daughter Julie Nelson. “I never gave up hope.”

Nobody gave up hope. Family and friends spent the week scouring Cowlitz County.

On Friday, a bow hunter spotted Sturm and his truck at the bottom of an embankment off Germany Creek Road. Nelson says her dad must have taken a wrong turn and slid off the road.

He survived five nights in sub-freezing temperatures on half a Snickers bar, a bottle of water, and his own resourcefulness.

“He said he took a credit card and scraped the ice off the hood of his truck,” said Nelson. “He said he took a paper towel and wiped the window and sucked the water out of the paper towel.”

Nelson is not surprised by her dad’s will to live. She also understands how this may have happened. She says her dad has been acting strange.

“Disoriented, confused, he’d gotten lost,” she said.

The behavior prompted Nelson to ask doctors to take a thorough look at her dad. Nobody could have imagined what they would find.

Doctors discovered a tumor on Sturm’s brain. Nelson is convinced they never would have found it had it not been for the accident.

“We wouldn’t have been able to convince him to go to the hospital on his own,” said Nelson. “A blessing in disguise.”