A couple who were rescued from imminent death after being stranded in the Australian outback earlier this month have shared their miracle story of survival.
Jose Merlos and fiancé Nicky Wong were driving through a remote part of Northern South Australia with their dog Loki when their 4WD got stuck in the sand.
Unable to move the car, the couple spent two days hiking 40 miles in scorching heat – and unable to eat – as they searched for the nearest town of Innamincka.
Mr. Merlos was forced to drink with his own urine and muddy cow water in a struggle to stay alive as the temperature rose to nearly 40 ° C and heat exhaustion set in.
“It was so hot and we were scared, I thought we were going to die,” said Mr. Merlos.
Jose Merlos and Nicky Wong (pictured) were driving their dog Loki along a remote part of South Australia earlier this month when their 4WD stalled and they were forced to walk in search of help
The couple scribbled handwritten notes, including the one above, and left them along the road in the hope that someone would read them and find the couple.
‘We barely spoke while walking because our mouths were so dry. We had little to eat, but we could not eat it because we had no saliva and could not swallow.
“I was worried my fiancé Nicky wouldn’t make it because she needed more and more breaks, and I had to beg her to keep walking.”
Telephone reception was lost and several attempts to contact the emergency services proved fruitless.
“My phone only said SOS, and I kept trying to call for help, but the call didn’t come through,” Mr. Merlos said.
The pair left handwritten notes along the way and also wrote ‘SOS’ in giant letters in the sandy ground so that the distress signal could be seen by planes.
“Need help, got stuck … not enough supplies,” a note said.
‘We walked about 60 km. We hope to find people or campgrounds or emergency call reception. ‘
Jose was sure the couple would die in the outback – until, by chance, a field worker from the Santos oil and gas company, who the couple only knew as Craig, happened to them.
The couple walked 60 km in two days without food or water and desperately tried to be saved. Pictured, a note left by the couple
The stranded couple also etched SOS (pictured above) into the dirt in an attempt to be rescued
“Craig told us he only took that road once every six weeks, and we had to walk another 15 miles to get to Innamincka,” said Mr. Merlos.
It was so hot and we were scared I thought we were going to die
“If he hadn’t found us, we would have died.”
Craig drove them to his work base camp, where they were given food and water.
Mr Merlos from France and Ms Wong from Hong Kong were then taken to Innamincka for treatment by the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
“They were in remarkably good physical shape,” said RFDS nurse Chris Belshaw.
A little emotional when they realized how dangerous they were.
“Fortunately for them, the temperature was colder than usual at this time of year, and only in the mid to high 30s.”
Mr Belshaw said the average temperature in the area in January is 45 ° C.
The couple drove home to Adelaide from Cairns and planned to travel through New South Wales, but were forced to go through the South Australian Outback due to Covid-19 border restrictions.
Innamincka (pictured above) is a remote area in South Australia, where conditions are harsh all year round
“If it was the normal temperature, I think they would have died,” he said.
The couple and their dog returned to Adelaide from a holiday in Cairns.
They intended to drive through New South Wales, but due to the Covid-19 border restrictions imposed by South Australia, they were forced to travel through the remote part of the north east of their home state.
“If we had to travel to the outback again, we would buy a satellite phone and make sure the authorities in town knew to expect us,” said Mr. Merlos.