After 3 Days Without Food, Rescued Boy in Fair, but Hungry, Shape

Times Staff Writer

Jesus Antonio (Pepin) Garcia, the 7-year-old Mexicali boy who was rescued after a three-day ordeal in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, did not eat or drink anything while he was lost but suffered no serious injuries, a doctor said Thursday.

Dr. Bradley Peterson, director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Childrens Hospital, described Jesus’ condition as fair to good and hungry. The primary concern was treating the youth’s dehydration, Peterson said, and the hospital was doing that by giving him fluids intravenously. His vital signs were stable.

“Of all the children that we have in the intensive care unit, he’s the healthiest. . . . He’s miles from any life-threatening problems,” Peterson said. The doctor estimated that the boy had suffered about 15% dehydration and had lost 7 to 8 pounds during the ordeal.

The boy was found Wednesday afternoon, just before dusk, in a gully by a group of 13 Marines. The Marines were among more than 200 volunteers, rangers and law enforcement officials from throughout California who had searched the rugged mountain park since Sunday.


Found Close to Picnic Site

Jesus wandered away from his family, who had driven to the park from Mexicali for a day’s outing and picnic. He and his twin brother, Fernando, and a family friend were searching for pine cones when Jesus walked away. When he failed to return, his parents, Antonio Garcia and Corina Morales, notified park authorities. Jesus was found less than 2 miles from the family’s picnic site.

After spending all night and most of the day by their son’s bedside, the parents left the hospital Thursday afternoon to get some sleep, hospital officials said. Peterson said he is not sure how long Jesus will remain in the hospital. Spokeswoman Viki Hurst said officials do not know who will pay the bill, which had already totaled about $2,000 by Thursday afternoon.

A mild controversy arose Thursday when doctors learned that Jesus’ father had apparently fed his son a hamburger and strawberry shake Wednesday night. The youngster had asked for a hamburger after he was rescued, but doctors wanted to rehydrate him before feeding him solid food. On Thursday afternoon, Jesus complained of abdominal cramps, which doctors attributed to the dehydration and hamburger.


Still Hungry

Despite the cramps, Jesus kept reminding the hospital staff that he was hungry. However, doctors said they would wait a while before feeding him solid food.

Jesus had not eaten anything since midnight, Peterson said.

Since Jesus does not speak English, and the doctors and nurses do not speak Spanish, Peterson said he did not know what the youth did to survive. However, he told rescuers that he slept on the road at night because it was warm and used rocks as pillows. The youth also said he could hear rescuers calling out to him but they were unable to hear his cries in return.

Peterson said he was not sure how long Jesus could have survived in the wild without food or water, but he guessed that he could have lasted “a week or so.”