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Reuters: Hiker Rescued by Telemarketers

A Colombian hiker stranded in an Andes mountains blizzard escaped death thanks to a timely call from a telemarketer, the wire service Reuters reported Friday.

Leonardo Diaz, on a hike in late May, was stuck above 12,500 feet in the mountains when the blizzard struck, according to Reuters. He tried calling out on his cell phone but found that his pre-paid minutes had run out.

Diaz remained in the storm for 24 hours, slowly freezing to death and taking small sips of brandy, when his cell phone rang, Reuters reported. It was a Bell South telemarketer calling to ask whether Diaz wanted to buy more pre-paid minutes.

“We thought it was a joke, but he insisted it was true,” Maria del Pilar Basto, the Bell South telemarketing agent who first contacted Diaz, told Reuters.

The telemarketers called for help and kept Diaz on the phone to help him stay awake and avoid lapsing into hypothermia, according to Reuters. Diaz later told authorities he placed his cell phone battery in the snow in an effort to keep it from going dead.

Rescuers arrived seven hours later and evacuated Diaz safely, Reuters said.

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