Man Ate Onions To Stay Alive

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May 13, 2015 by genelup

Juan Salazar Bosquez was stranded on an island for three days before he was rescued. No, it wasn’t an island in the South Pacific, but a Salt River island in Phoenix, Arizona.

This happened in the early 1970s.  As a police reporter, I wrote the story about him in The Arizona Republic. Bosquez told me he stayed alive eating onions and weed roots. His only complaints after being rescued by canoeists were a sore right ankle, a headache and a stomach-ache.

“I ate about a dozen onions that were floating by the island and my breath stunk,” Bosquez said. “I had to gargle with mouthwash when I got home.”

Bosquez told Maricopa County deputies that while fishing at the river near 51st Avenue, he lost his footing and toppled into the water and was swept about a quarter of a mile to the island, which was about a mile long.

He said he was not missed by his wife and children because he had told them he was going to Prescott to look for a job and didn’t know when he would be back. Bosquez, who had been laid off from a job as a construction worker, said he went to a union hall, but the ride he was supposed to get to Prescott didn’t show up. Instead, he went fishing at the river – and fell in.

For three days he didn’t see anyone on shore until a boy rode by on a horse.

“I yelled for help,” Bosquez said. Deputies went to the scene. The normally dry river had been swollen with excess water released by the Salt River Project. Two men in a canoe were paddling by and deputies asked them to rescue the man stranded on the nearby island.

“The first thing – when we got the man to shore – he bummed a cigarette from me,” said one of the canoeists. “His clothes were dirty and it looked as if he hadn’t shaved for several days.”

Bosquez said while on the island he waded out into the river up to his chin three times, but each time he was swept back to the island.

He said he found a cave on the island and once tried to kill a jackrabbit by throwing rocks at it.

“I drank the river water and when I got hungry, I ate weed roots and the onions that came floating by,” he said. “At night it got cold so I cut a large inner tube and wrapped it around me.”

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