(12/10/2002)
A startling survival story of a man trapped in his car in the backwoods of Wayne County, ended in victory after a five-day ordeal.

Robert "Reward" Ward, 32, a Wayne County emergency medical technician, melted snow in a soda can with a cigarette lighter and burned anything he could find to survive the ordeal that began when his car plunged off an embankment. He was discovered Sunday morning.

Ward is more fortunate than the story in The Herald this week - "They Froze To Death On The Husk"

With severe hip and pelvis injuries, frostbite and facial lacerations, Ward is in fair condition at St. Mary's Hospital in Huntington. a hospital spokesman said. "He's as joyful as ever. He's very optimistic. He's a good character," according to a Wayne County EMS worker.

Ward was driving to work when his car slid over a 150-foot embankment, and because of the shape of the landscape, his light-blue car was hidden from searchers, and was almost impossible to see after last week's snow..

Emergency services and community volunteers using all-terrain vehicles, horses and even a helicopter, searched all week for Ward, an emergency medical technician with the Dunlow Volunteer Fire Department.

Ward does not remember why his car left the highway.

"He survived by melting snow in a pop can, surviving below-freezing temperatures. "He burned everything in the car -- paper, lining of the (interior roof). He pretty well burned everything he could possibly burn. He had been without heat for at least 24 hours," said a spokesperson. He ate small packets of condiments from fast food establishments.

Ward even burned his pants and shirt to stay warm, unable to crawl from the vehicle. He heard rescue workers above him Sunday and began shouting. The car was then pulled up to the road and he was cut out of the vehicle.

Firefighters knew something was wrong when he failed to make an appearance at the department and his grandparents began calling. He was devoted to his grandparents, firemen said, making certain to check in with them on a regular basis.

Ward is a 12-year veteran of the department, described as a great guy who is well- liked by his co-workers.


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