"I pulled up, and right away he started begging. He was begging and shivering," said Wilfred Sisco, who received a call from relatives about a man waving desperately on a road.
Sisco's relatives spotted Gilmore on Oct. 17 on their way to visit Sisco, and again on Oct. 18 when they were leaving. They had just assumed he was resting at the roadside, Sisco said.
"I knew something was wrong," said Sisco, a retired 73-year-old sheep farmer from Tocito, NM, the only person who stopped to help Gilmore.
"I dropped everything I had to help him. It's just what I would do," said Sisco, who does not consider himself a hero.
Gilmore, who lost the use of his legs 19 years ago in a crash, was filthy, dusty and bloody, and had dragged himself several miles on Tocito Road over three days and two nights.
He had no wheelchair, no water, no food, and no extra clothing to keep warm. The clothes he did have were worn through after his daily attempts to get closer to the nearest paved road, U.S. Highway 491.
"I realized he was paraplegic, and I thought, "What in the world was he doing out there?'" Sisco said. "I put a real thick sweater over him, and he drank three bottles of water right there."
Gilmore said three vehicles passed him during his ordeal
Sisco said he immediately called an ambulance, which initially had trouble finding the road, about 30 miles south of Shiprock and 10 miles north of Gilmore's home in Newcomb.
"It didn't take long," Sisco said. "But he was sitting cross-legged, and they couldn't straighten him out. They tried putting him on the stretcher, and he started crying."
Doctors told Gilmore that he had a body temperature of 94, acute kidney failure, and a blood infection not to mention scrapes all across his buttocks and legs.
Gilmore may not have lasted another night, considering his health and the nighttime temperatures around 40, hospital officials said Tuesday.
Sisco estimated that Gilmore had dragged himself more than two and a half miles, based on the zig zagging trail that Gilmore left in the dust during his struggle.
Gilmore, who was hitch hiking Oct. 16, said he was picked up by a woman and man who then picked up another man. The man who was with the woman initially was dropped off. Gilmore, the woman and the second man drove down U.S. Highway 491.
Sisco said Gilmore told him that the second man thought Gilmore was flirting with the woman.
The man, woman and Gilmore had been drinking when the man became hostile and jealous and yanked Gilmore out of the truck by the ankles and left him there without his wheelchair, Gilmore said.
Sisco, the first to hear the story, was astonished.
"I started taking notes because I wanted to pinpoint the perpetrator," he said.
Gilmore filed a police report the same day he was found, though the report of battery still is pending, according to the Shiprock Police Department.
Responding officer Melvin Joe, who is on a week's leave this week, has up to 30 working days to complete the report. No arrests yet have been made.
FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said on Wednesday that the agency is waiting to hear whether it will investigate the incident. He said the FBI will monitor the local investigation to see if a federal crime was committed.
While the investigation by the police will take time, the reaction to Gilmore's story was immediate. Newspapers and news organizations across the state, nation and world picked up his story.
From London, England to Chattanooga, Tenn., and to Seattle, people were amazed by Gilmore's tale of survival,
"He's got such a great attitude. He must have had a lot of fortitude too," said retiree Maureen Barger Stevenson, 75, who called The Daily Times from Palmer, Alaska. "That man is my kind of people."
Newspapers from around the state interviewed Gilmore on Wednesday, and he had various family members visit him the first visitors since Sisco visited Gilmore in the hospital Friday.
Gilmore said it has been painful to recollect the experience.
He has not had nightmares for 21 years since his mother gave him a pi-on bead necklace that he wore under his hospital gown. He said this week, he had a nightmare.
He did not have a nightmare when he became paralyzed on his 30th birthday, but he did on Monday.
"I had a nightmare last night that I was sitting on the dirt road and vehicles were just going back and forth," Gilmore said from his hospital bed Tuesday.