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Man survives 20 hours after avalanche; says he prayed to his mom


Jakub Cejpek | Shutterstock

Gelsomino Del Guercio - published on 02/27/23

"I’m not a believer, but that night I prayed to my mom," he recounted to Ansa news agency.

Carluccio Sartori, a 54-year-old from Villanova Marchesana in northern Italy, is a ski mountaineer who survived for more than 20 hours under an avalanche in Val Badia, near the Italian border with Austria. “I’m not a believer, but that night I prayed to my mom,” he recounted to Ansa news agency. “I remained clear-headed. I knew if I made a mistake it was over.”

How was he saved? 

Rescuers spotted him after picking up a faint signal from his Arva transceiver and catching sight of his hand silhouetted in the snow. “My only thought was to stay alive. I often watch movies of mountaineers, and I know that people who fall asleep die, so I tried never to sleep.”

His doctors say it’s a miracle

Even for doctors at the Bolzano hospital where he was hospitalized in intensive care, it’s a miracle to have found Carluccio Sartori alive and conscious after 20 hours under the snow in a temperature of 14ºF. “It was like being in an igloo,” he told TGCOM 24, “but I never gave up.”

Buried by the avalanche

“When I realized I was stuck, I thought, ‘For the moment, I’m breathing.’ And so I broke through the snow with my arm, and I started to make an arc by slowly moving my fingers, so as to create a funnel so I could breathe. The strength you find in yourself in those moments is only given to you by the will to continue living,” he said.

The miracle: “No, not today”

“I will never forget the sound of the helicopter,” he explained. When tempted to give up and let the cold overwhelm him, “I told myself ‘no, not today.’ The hole I had made allowed me to look at the sky and the stars. I could see the Big Dipper,” he told FanPage.

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