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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Idaho police rescue 11-year-old in wilderness, receive national Heroes’ Award

Idaho State Police Cpl. David Wesche, left, and Communications Center Supervisor Raymond Shute, center, received Heroes Awards from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children on May 11 for their rescue of an 11-year-old Georgia boy a year prior. The event was hosted at the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.  (Courtesy of Sarah Baker Ncmec)
By Nicole Blanchard Idaho Statesman

Two Idaho State Police employees have been recognized with a national award for their roles in rescuing an abducted child from the Idaho backcountry in May 2022, according to a department news release.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children gave its Heroes’ Award to Cpl. David Wesche and Communications Center Supervisor Raymond Shute on May 11. The award honored Wesche and Shute for their work rescuing 11-year-old Gabriel Daugherty, of Georgia, who was taken to Idaho by his father, Addam Daugherty, without the permission of his mother, who was his custodial parent.

The award came a year and one day after Wesche noticed an unusual vehicle in remote Idaho County, setting off the rescue effort for Gabriel.

Idaho State Police said Wesche noticed a car with Georgia license plates on the side of U.S. 12 on May 10, 2022. He’d noticed the same vehicle in that spot – near the trailhead for Canyon Creek – several days prior.

Wesche told the Amber Advocate, an online newsletter about Amber Alert issues, that “only die-hard hunters” camped there. It struck him as odd that the vehicle remained there, so he asked Shute to track down information on the car. It turned out to be a rental car that Addam Daugherty had picked up in LaGrange, Georgia, 11 days earlier.

Daugherty and his son had been missing since Daugherty told the boy’s mother they would be taking a trip to Six Flags in Atlanta. Georgia police had asked the public for help locating Gabriel.

Shute relayed this information – and the fact that Daugherty had a felony arrest warrant for custodial interference violations – to Wesche.

Wesche worked to coordinate Idaho State Police, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Forest Service and other agencies to begin search and rescue efforts. Shute became the point person to communicate with Georgia law enforcement and track down resources like helicopters and a search dog. Police said Shute worked on his day off the following day to keep up communications between the remote search team and other agencies.

According to the Amber Advocate, a search team sent up a drone and found the Daughertys’ campsite several miles up the trailhead. Wesche described hiking the terrain as “a treacherous physical undertaking.”

When officials made it to the camp, they found “deplorable conditions” and few resources – little food and water, and no gear for cold, rainy weather. At the time, Idaho County Chief Deputy Brian Hewson said the pair had started eating plants, snails and bugs to survive.

Officials said Gabriel was sick and in rough shape when they found him and his father. He was taken to an Idaho hospital before being returned to his mother in Georgia. His father was extradited from Idaho on a charge of interstate interference with custody.

Idaho State Police said in the news release that Shute and Wesche received commendations from the department as well. They were honored by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

“Out of hundreds of nominations, the (center) honored Cpl. Wesche and Shute, amongst others, for their bravery and courage to go above and beyond to protect our youth,” the news release said. “Thank you for your tireless efforts and willingness to overcome challenges.”