KAMAS, Utah – An 11-year-old boy who vanished from a Boy Scout camp was found alive and in good condition Tuesday after spending four days lost in the rugged Utah wilderness.
Sheriff Dave Edmunds said Brennan Hawkins was “a little dehydrated, a little weak, but other than that, he was in very good health.”
After downing bottles of water and eating all the granola bars carried by a group of volunteer searchers, the boy asked to play a video game on one rescuer’s cell phone, the sheriff said.
The youngster from the Salt Lake City suburb of Bountiful was found near Lily Lake, about five miles from the camp in the Uinta Mountains where he was last seen Friday. He was reunited with his parents and their four other children and taken to a hospital.
The boy carried no food or water. His family said he did not have a good sense of direction. The sheriff said the nights were warm, with temperatures falling into the 50s. The area is about 100 miles northeast of Salt Lake City.
It was not immediately clear how he survived or whether he tried to find his way back to camp.
“He was in no mood to give us some details,” the sheriff said. “He just wanted to eat and see his Mom.”
The boy and his family rode in an ambulance together to a Salt Lake City hospital. “He laughed on the way here, just like he always has,” said his mother, Jody Hawkins.
“People say that the heavens are closed and God no longer answers prayers. We are here to unequivocally tell you that the heavens are not closed, prayers are answered and children come home,” she told reporters as the family arrived at Primary Children’s Medical Center.
With a towel around his neck, Brennan waved to reporters as he was unloaded from an ambulance.
Doctors planned to keep him at least overnight to run tests, said Dr. Ed Clark, the hospital’s medical director.
Officials said Brennan disappeared somewhere along a dirt road between the camp’s artificial climbing wall and the “chow hall,” where he was to meet a friend.
Edmunds said investigators will wait until the boy has had time to recover before questioning him.
Kay Godfrey, a spokeswoman for the Boy Scouts’ Great Salt Lake Council, pronounced the boy’s rescue a “modern-day miracle.”
Thousands of searchers – many of them volunteers – had scoured the area for the boy, using long poles to probe a swollen river.
Volunteer Forrest Nunley, a 43-year-old house painter from Salt Lake City, said he found Brennan “standing in the middle of the trail. He was all muddy and wet.”
The boy saw some volunteer searchers on horseback, but “he didn’t want to come out. He was too scared. He was a little delirious. I sat him down and gave him a little food,” Nunley said.
During the search, rescuers had feared the boy had fallen into a river that was swollen by heavy snow melt. The East Fork of the Bear River is within 100 yards of the road where the boy was believed to have been walking. Deep-water rescue teams searched the river, while others combed the rugged area around it.
On Monday, rescuers found three socks and a sandal in the river, but none belonged to Brennan. The boys’ parents also sifted fruitlessly through enough clothing collected from the mountains to fill the bed of a pickup.