Teen Survives Over 30 Hours Alone in the Woods After Running From Killer

September 16, 2020

A 15-year-old boy’s survival instincts kicked in when he ran from the man who murdered his father and survived roughly 30 terrifying hours in the woods alone.

It all started on July 3 when he and his father, Ari Gershman, a California physician and pharmaceutical executive, were off-roading in Tahoe National Forest, according to PEOPLE.

They pulled over to the side of the road and saw a blue ATV pull up behind them “out of nowhere.”

Jack Gershman told CBS News that they got lost near the Poker Flat area of Sierra County and decided to ask the driver for directions when gunfire erupted.

"The shooter pulls out a pistol and starts shooting ... and then, after two or three shots, he was hit," Jack told the news outlet.

Ari was fatally wounded, while Jack managed to escape.

The outlet notes he hid in the woods wearing only shorts and a t-shirt.

"I tried to call the police, but I still couldn't get cell reception," he told the publication.

He climbed a tree to get better cell signal and noted that when he was “able to get a bar of cell reception,” he called police.

He said they told him to stay put and that they’d send helicopters. Per CBS News, he was able to call and text his mother before his cell battery died.

According to PEOPLE, the helicopters “didn’t end up seeing” Jack, who spent the night curled up beside a bush trying to sleep. He recalled being covered in mosquito bites.

“A few times I'd wake up because I had a dream of a helicopter coming and getting me, but every time I got into the helicopter I'd wake up again,” he said.

The police were able to track Jack the next day using K-9 teams trained in human tracking.

"I heard people calling for me and just followed their voices and ended up getting rescued," Jack recalled of the July 4th rescue mission.

CBS notes that it's unclear how Jack survived or if he had had any food or water with him.

The gunman was eventually caught after he rammed a police checkpoint with his blue ATV.

John Conway, 40, was arrested and charged with murder, attempted murder, burglary, and firearms crimes. The publication did not provide a motive for the shooting, but according to the San Francisco Chronicle, he had a number of prior felony convictions and is suspected of shooting and injuring two other people that day.

A GoFundme page was set up to help cover funeral costs, family counseling, and expenses. It raised over $600,000 of the $650,000 goal.

The page noted that Jack’s mother, Paige, is “in the fight of her life right now undergoing Chemo treatments for cancer.”

Regardless, she remained optimistic and said the outpouring of love from friends and strangers was overwhelming.

“We're just overwhelmed with how kind people are,” she explained.

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