79-year-old mushroom picker survives 2 days lost in wilderness

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by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

KREM.com

Posted on October 10, 2012 at 5:44 PM

TACOMA, Wash.  – After two days lost in the woods in Lewis County, the first thing Dapeng Yang wanted when he reached searchers was water.

His second request: a light for his cigarette.

Last Sunday, Yang, 79, of Tacoma, went with his daughter, Fang, and a friend into the woods of Lewis County in search of wild mushrooms.  The pickings were good, and the grandfather filled up his backpack with lobster mushrooms. But he got separated from the women, and then he fell down and got disoriented.

He lost his cigarette lighter, so he couldn't light a fire. And his water was gone by Sunday night.

He said he may not have gotten lost had he not lost his lighter; he would have lit a fire to try to signal searchers. Instead, he huddled up in the woods as temperatures reached near freezing levels overnight Sunday and Monday.

On Tuesday afternoon, he found searchers looking for him off a forest service road near Randle.

“I’m not going to die, I’m going to go home,” said Yang, according to his daughter, Fang, who served as his interpreter.

Fang Yang said she never doubted her father would survive. She said luckily her father's always cold, so even though he was lost, he had four layers of clothes and a hat. And he remembered survival skills he learned while spending time in the Chinese Army when he was young. But his daughter credits his survival to something else.

“He’s very positive, always very hopeful, confident,” said Fang Yang.

Dapeng Yang does not speak much English, but he had a message for the rescuers who did not give up the search even though he had not been seen for 48 hours.

“Thank you very much,” said Dapeng Yang.

Yang said he has no plans to go mushroom picking ever again.

KING 5's Liza Javier contributed to this report.
 

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