For three agonizing days, Ricky Gilmore, 49, dragged himself four miles through the New Mexico desert before a motorist stopped to help him on a seldom trafficked road on the Navajo Nation, reported the The Associated Press.
The paraplegic man—who was stranded without a wheelchair, food, water or coat—suffered a blood infection, sprained wrist and acute kidney failure due to dehydration and hunger. The deep cut on his buttocks and thighs continued to ooze through bandages days after he was found.
“Ah man, I’m just a big mess. I ache and I’m just in the first stages of healing,” he told The Associated Press on October 23 from his hospital bed at the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, New Mexico.
Gilmore was treated in the intensive care unit for two days and is expected to remain in the hospital for another week.
Tossed on the street
Gilmore met a couple while hitchhiking on October 16. He invited them over for steaks and the three later got in the couple’s white truck for a spin. Gilmore declined to share his alcohol with them, and suddenly the man seized Gilmore by his ankles and threw him on the street in a remote town.
“I did not want to fight back,” he told the The Farmington Daily Times. “If I did fight back all hell would come loose. … I know gangsters like that, they just that start clubbing away.”
Gilmore is no stranger to hitchhiking. He’s been doing it for nearly two decades, he told the Daily Times, ever since a motorcycle accident on his 30th birthday cost him his legs.
While stranded, Gilmore tried to wave down three vehicles, including one from the Native American Church, that passed by. No one stopped.
At night, desert temperatures plummet. Gilmore was discovered shivering and bleeding the afternoon of his third day on the street about 10 miles outside of Newcomb, where he resides. A man in a blue pickup truck spotted Gilmore and called an ambulance. His body temperature was 94, below the normal 98.6 degrees.
Despite his physical pain, what troubled him most is that someone was capable of doing that to him, Gilmore told the Daily Times.
“I mean, I’m in a wheelchair. They should have that respect for people who have a disability. I was just being nice,” he said. “The disrespect, you know, for people with disabilities. I didn’t do nothing to them.”