A couple who were rescued from near death after being stranded in the Australian outback earlier this month have shared their miracle story of survival.
Jose Merlos and his fiancee Nicky Wong were driving through a remote area 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 walking 65 km in the scorching heat – and unable to eat – as they searched for the nearest town of Innamincka.
Mr Merlos was forced to drink his own urine and muddy trough water in a battle to stay alive as temperatures soared to nearly 40C and heat exhaustion set in.
“It was so hot and we were scared, I thought we were going to die,” Mr. Merlos said.
Jose Merlos and Nicky Wong (pictured) were driving their dog Loki along a remote part of South Australia earlier this month when their SUV got stuck and they were forced to walk to search help.
The couple jotted down handwritten notes, including the one above, and left them by the side of the road in hopes someone would read them and find the pair.
“We barely spoke as we walked because our mouths were so dry. We had little food left but we could not eat it because we had no saliva and could not swallow.
“ I was worried that my fiancee Nicky wouldn’t do it because she needed more and more breaks to rest, and I had to beg her to keep walking. ”
Telephone reception was interrupted and several attempts to contact emergency services were unsuccessful.
“ My phone was only saying SOS, and I kept trying to call for help over and over again, but the call was not going through, ” Mr. Merlos said.
The couple left handwritten notes strewn along the way and also wrote “ SOS ” in giant letters in the sandy soil so the distress sign could be seen by planes.
“Need help, got stuck … running out of supplies,” a note read.
“We have been walking for about 60 km. We hope to find people or campsites or an emergency call reception.
Mr Jose was certain the couple were going to die in the outback – until a field worker at the Santos oil and gas company, whom the couple only knew as Craig, ran into them.
The couple walked 60 km in two days without food or water, desperately trying to be saved. In the photo, a note left by the couple
The stranded couple also etched SOS (pictured above) into the dirt in an attempt to be saved
“Craig told us that he only takes this road once every six weeks and that we still have 25 km to go to get to Innamincka,” said Merlos.
It was so hot and we were scared I thought we were gonna die
“If he hadn’t found us, we would have perished.
Craig drove them to his base labor 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 very good physical condition,” said Chris Belshaw, a nurse for RFDS.
“ A little touching because they realized how at risk they were.
“Fortunately for them, the temperature was cooler than usual for this time of year, and only between 30 and 30 years old.
Mr Belshaw said the average temperature in the region in January was 45 ° C.
The couple were on their way home to Adelaide from Cairns and had 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 region in southern Australia where conditions are harsh all year round
“If it was normal temperature I think they would have perished,” he said.
The couple and their dog were returning to Adelaide after a vacation in Cairns.
They had planned to drive through New South Wales by car, but due to Covid-19 border restrictions imposed by South Australia, they were forced to drive through the remote northeastern part of their state of origin.
“If we were to travel to the outback again, we would buy a satellite phone and make sure that the city authorities in front of us know they are waiting for us,” Merlos said.