Missing boy found after night spent alone in the Uintas
A 9-year-old boy went missing in the Uintas Wednesday evening after becoming separated from his family during a hike, spending the night alone in the forest until his father found him the next day.
Stratton Wright, of Idaho, was hiking with his family in the Henry’s Fork area of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest when he became separated from the group around 8 p.m. Wednesday, according to a Summit County Sheriff’s Office press release.
Around 9:45 p.m., the Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call reporting the boy had been missing for more than an hour and immediately sent resources to the scene, including Search and Rescue personnel.
Crews searched overnight on foot and by motorcycle, horse and helicopter, according to Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright. The search continued Thursday morning with additional resources including dog search teams, aircraft and teams on horseback.
More than 20 agencies responded or volunteered to respond, Lt. Wright said, from as far away as Jackson Hole, Wyo. He estimated more than 50 people were involved in the search.
But it was the boy’s father who ultimately found him, walking in a meadow about two miles away from the campsite.
Lt. Wright said the boy quickly knew he was lost on Wednesday night but couldn’t find his way back to the campsite. He knew how to get back to the parking lot at Henry’s Fork trailhead, though, and headed there.
The boy knew he needed to conserve his energy so he found a makeshift shelter under two fallen trees and slept the night. He continued his trek at daybreak Thursday and tried to attract rescuers’ notice by walking in open areas and occasionally shouting to see if anyone could hear him.
Lt. Wright said the boy did everything right in conserving energy and attempting to make himself conspicuous for searchers.
When the boy saw a man walking toward him, he knew he shouldn’t talk to strangers, Lt. Wright said, but approached anyway because of his predicament. That’s when he realized the man was his father.
The reunion was emotional and happy, Lt. Wright reported, and the boy is in good condition.
“When he got back to the command post he told everyone, his dad and everyone, he was ready to camp for the rest of the weekend,” Lt. Wright said.
Lt. Wright thanked Summit County Search and Rescue personnel, calling them unsung heroes.
“Our (Search and Rescue) team doesn’t get enough recognition. … They are rock stars,” Wright said. “This call came out, they literally were out all night long looking for this 9-year-old. They never complain about it, they just go out and beat the ground and want to have a good outcome.”
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