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Missing hiker in Sabino Canyon recounts his story of survival

Posted at 5:16 PM, Jul 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-08 21:28:08-04
Nearly a week has passed since Rafael Batiz was rescued and though his body has healed, he can still vividly remember those 12 hours lost in the desert. 
 
"Every time I saw some shade, I would stop and rest," he said. "There were some pools of water that I would soak my head in." 
 
Batiz was rescued on July 3 after he had gone camping with friends the night before in Sabino Canyon. Batiz says they camped near Hutch's pool and then set out early Sunday morning to hike back to one of the tram stops. 
 
His friends got too far ahead of him on the hike out and Batiz said he made a wrong turn at some point on the trail. Before he knew it, he had lost the trail and didn't know where he was. 
 
He ended up in the creek bed and decided to follow that. At about 10 a.m. he says he ran out of water because he had only planned for a two-hour hike to the tram stop. That's when he started feeling dehydrated. 
 
He came across pools of water but says he feared drinking the water might make him sick and he knew he had to keep walking. He said he could hear the helicopters and knew they were searching for him, but he could never get close enough for them to see him.
 
So he kept walking. 
 
"At some point, I just looked up and I saw a bridge and I saw cars," said Batiz. "So that was the only visual I had so I knew I had to get to those cars." 
 
The bridge he saw was along Catalina Highway near the Seven Cataracts viewpoint. He decided he was going to get as close as possible to that bridge and call for help.

Shortly after though, he said his body started shutting down. It was past 6 p.m. at this point. 
 
"My hands and my face and my feet were getting numb so that's when I started to worry," said Batiz. "That's when I started to panic a little bit."
 
He says he collapsed and started screaming for help. Four people heard his screams and hiked down to his location bringing water and fruit.
 
An hour later, a Sheriff's helicopter arrived. 
 
"They said that after 10 hours, that they started getting very worried especially since I didn't have water," said Batiz. "That they normally would be looking for a body after that much time out there." 
 
Batiz says he credits those four Good Samaritans with saving his life, even getting emotional as he talks about them. He has plans to reunite with them this weekend to express his gratitude. 
 
"I think I had reached my limit," said Batiz. "I pushed myself as much as I could to get to that road and I fell a little short. I got close enough to where people heard me and they could get help to me. I'm very thankful for them."