I agree - nobody is perfect. At some point, everyone gets a little messed up. I know I have, like back before GPS was widely used and you couldn't as easily fly "to a point" without good planning, and the controller would give you a straight-in approach to a runway that was just out there in the ether somewhere, and maybe you'd already be low because you were scratching around for the airport, and it would be hazy...you know the drill.
It is easy to get spoiled nowadays!
That said, I wonder if he at least knew how to use VORs. If he had a chart, you would think he would have tried this. That is a pretty densely-popuated VOR area. Have they de-emphasized that in primary training? Maybe things were happening too fast for him to be able to start twisting dials but it seems like he could have oriented himself fairly quickly in that location.