Tolleson man who was lost in the desert for 36 hours is now recovering from an ordeal that forced him to eat birds and insects to survive.
Ruben Jimenez, 28, was reported missing by his sister Thursday night when he failed to come back from a morning hike in the southwest Valley.
After hours of walking in the desert with only a jug of water, some soda and crackers, Jimenez made his way to a home near 115th and Southern avenues Friday night.
Jimenez was dehydrated and disoriented when he was found and is now recovering at home. He suffered several cuts.
"It's unbelievable, but I made it and I'm alive," he said Saturday from his home. "I was thinking I was going to die, but I'm OK."
Jimenez decided to go out for one last trek with his three dogs before moving to New Mexico. His wife and two small children were already in the state, but flew back Friday.
After six hours of walking, Jimenez tried to take a shortcut and got lost. He said he panicked about 7 p.m. when he ran out of water. To survive the high temperatures, he drank from dirty puddles left behind from the recent monsoon storm and his own urine, he said. He also ate birds and insects.
"At one point, I said, 'That's it, God, take me. I want to die.' "
As for the dogs, one returned Thursday; the others are missing.
It was difficult for the helicopters to find Jimenez once he followed the river because of the dense salt cedar brush, said Sgt. Paul Chagolla of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
But eventually, Jimenez found help several miles from the search-and-rescue command post, he said.
"The only reason this individual survived is that he's physically fit," Chagolla said.