If it weren’t for the kindness of a total stranger, Mario Castro and his dog might not be alive today.
Mario and his 14-year-old dog, Zoe, got into his white SUV to drive from his home in Globe, Arizona to his mother’s house in El Paso, Texas. When he was finally only a half an hour away in Las Cruces, New Mexico, he gave his mom a call to let her know he’d be there in just half an hour.
On the road near Las Cruces, Mario missed his exit. He got off at the next one, but the road was barely more than a rocky path. Mario struck some rocks and the car got stuck, so he and Zoe got out to try to find help nearby.
Mario had intended to celebrate his 54th birthday with his mother. Instead, he spent the next six days wandering desperately through the desert. The sun was blazing hot and temperatures reached 100 degrees every day.
Dehydrated and exhausted, Mario and Zoe struggled to stay alive. Mario says he was “at the verge of death,” barely hanging on until he could find another watering hole to keep them going for a few more hours. On the sixth day, he had resigned himself to dying out there in the desert.
“I felt like it was my last day,” Mario said. “My dog’s eyes had sunk in. I felt like it was her last day, too. We just hunkered down underneath a tree and I was making an SOS sign with fire.”
Castro had only completed half of the S when he spotted a white truck.
The white truck belonged to Frank Martinez, a local mechanic who was exploring the off-road trail system with his wife. When Frank first saw Mario, he could tell the man wasn’t doing well. He was dragging his feet and carrying a bundle of clothing, but there was something in the way Mario weakly tried to follow him and flag him down that made Frank stop and go back to check on the stranger.
Frank loaded Zoe and Mario into the bed of his truck and gave them something to eat and drink. Watching them in his rearview mirror, Frank suddenly realized how dire the situation was.
Frank brought Mario to a hotel so he could rest and recover from his ordeal. The next day, the mechanic and his wife returned to check on him then helped him get his car from the desert. Frank even offered to fix the vehicle for him!
Both men are so grateful that their paths crossed. If they hadn’t, or if Frank hadn’t decided to stop, Zoe and Mario would likely not have survived much longer.
“We both almost died if it hadn’t been for him,” said Mario.
That was a close one! Being stranded in the desert is a total nightmare scenario. We’re so glad it worked out for Mario and Zoe.
Share this story to thank Frank for stopping to Mario and Zoe’s lives.
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