By Tara Rippin • 17 September 2020 • 11:35
A teenager survived 30 terrifying hours alone in the wilderness, on the run from his father’s killer.
JACK, 15, and his father, Ari Gershman, were off-roading in California’s Tahoe National Forest when they became lost and disoriented.
They flagged down a passing vehicle, which had appeared “from out of nowhere” to ask directions when suddenly shots were fired at their Jeep in a “random attack.”
Ari, a physician and pharmaceutical executive, was struck and fell out of his Jeep, fatally wounded, reports People.
Terrified, Jack ran off into the woods wearing just a t-shirt and shorts.
“I tried to call the police, but I still couldn’t get a cell reception,” he told the publication.
Desperate to get help for his father, he climbed a mountain to get higher and a better signal.
Here he was able to get a reception, and called the police, who told him to stay where he was and they would send a helicopter.
It was then his battery died and he was left completely alone.
A helicopter was despatched to the area, “but they didn’t end up seeing me,” said Jack, who tried to sleep behind a bush, despite being attacked by mosquitos.
He said he woke a few times, having sporadic dreams of being rescued.
Meanwhile, the local police department had arranged for rescue dog teams, trained in human tracking, from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to try to locate Jack the next morning.
Around 4pm the next day, Jack told People he “heard people calling for me and just followed their voices and ended up getting rescued.”
Shortly afterwards, a blue off-road vehicle tried to ram a police checkpoint, and following a chase, the driver, John Conway, 40, was arrested.
He was later charged with Ari’s murder, attempted murder, burglary and firearms crimes.
Once safely home with his mother-of-three, Paige, the whole community rallied round and set up a GoFund me page.
A staggering €519,000 of the €551,000 target has been raised.
One of the team of fundraisers, Jennifer French, wrote: “Ari Gershman was shot and killed by a random gunman.
“After surviving over 30 hours alone in the Tahoe National Forest, Jack was found safe. Ari’s wife Paige is in the fight of her life right now undergoing chemo treatments for cancer. This family really needs our love and support.
“Ari was an avid cyclist, a vegetarian, an outdoorsman, an Internal Medicine Doctor, a devoted and loving father and fantastic friend that was willing to drop anything for his friends and family.
“He was witty and wise. He died doing what he loved with his son in an area he had hoped to retire in one day.
“This GoFundMe will help Paige pay for funeral costs, chemo treatments and doctor’s appointments, family counselling, daily expenses.”
“We’re just overwhelmed with how kind people are,” said Jack’s mum, Paige.
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Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.
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