Alaska man survives 3 days in sub-zero temperatures

Craig Johnson
Craig Johnson (Courtesy: ABC News)

ALASKA (WKRN) – A man in Alaska is lucky to be alive after surviving three days in the wilderness after his snowmobile sunk into the ice.

Craig Johnson was halfway through his 80-mile trek in remote Alaska on Dec. 15 when the accident happened.

Johnson, who was on his way to visit his family for the holidays, had to battle sub-zero temperatures and a wolverine.

“I almost gave up, but I couldn’t give up,” he told ABC News. “I had to do it for my boys, my family. I think it’s a miracle I’m alive.”

After Johnson’s snowmobile fell into the ice, he managed to crawl to an area where the ice was thicker

He then began searching for help, walking over 30 miles while being stalked by a wolverine.

“You could hear it on the ice, just playing with me, toying with me,” Johnson said.

After warning shots failed to scare the animal, he used a stick to defend himself.

Johnson then finally came upon a wooden box to use as shelter.

He was reported missing and several search helicopters flew past him without seeing him.

“That third night when they passed right by me, not even 200, 300 yard, that’s when I lost hope,” Johnson told ABC. “I just laid back down in that box I was in. It just felt like that was an open grave for me.”
As temperatures dropped to negative 35 degrees, a search team led by Johnson’s cousin Clifford Benson finally closed in.

“It doesn’t matter the conditions, I had to go. That’s my cousin,” Benson explained, adding that the wind and snow had erased all traces of Johnson.

But finally, Benson heard his cousin yelling. “I’ve never heard someone yell like that anywhere.”

Johnson told ABC that if Benson hadn’t seen him, it probably would’ve been his last night.

“They were going to bring me home in a body bag,” he explained.

Johnson was treated for frostbite. He explained to ABC that his will to survive was partly fueled by the loss of his father, who died in 1998 after he fell through the ice and drowned.

*ABC News contributed to this report.

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