RICHLAND, Wash. -- After almost a 170-hour search for a missing snowboarder at Bluewood over the weekend, a group of snowmobilers found 32-year-old Richland native Abe Cortina on Sunday.
Now Abe is back home and Action News sat down with him to learn about his experience.
"At no point did I think I’m going to die out here, but I did tell myself you can die out here if you become complacent," said Abe Cortina.
That's what Cortina told himself when he got separated from his group at Bluewood after going off-trail Saturday afternoon. When he tried to go back to the trail, it only got worse. He fell into a deep hole.
"I was upside down in the hole about five feet deep. By the time I managed to dig out of the hole, it was getting dark and I was like okay this isn't good," said Cortina.
By this time, hours went by and authorities launched a large search.
Abe said he saw a helicopter searching for him.
“I grabbed my snowboard which is green and black and was waving that over my head. I could've sworn he saw me because there was light hitting me. I could see my outline and shadow of my board. I could've made hand puppets in the shadow. It was right there," added Cortina.
But the chopper crew didn't see him.
That's when he said he found a row of trees and dug a shelter for him to stay for the night.
“I did squats. I put my feet up on a piece of wood and shook the wood back and forth with my legs just to keep moving. I did that the whole night. I didn't sleep. I didn't stop moving just to stay warm," said Cortina.
At first light, he started hiking.
Three hours into the hike, he came across a snowmobile trail and eventually a group of snowmobilers.
Now Abe is home safe, sound and extremely thankful.
Since he's been home, he said me he's received an outpouring of support from the community.
"It feels undeserved. All these people were looking out for me and it was really great," said Cortina.
Action News reached out to Bluewood and they said the last time they had someone go missing like this was in 2011.
Officials said they have a detailed plan on what to do if it does happen and update it every year.