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Rescuers recount finding 13-year-old Draper boy who was stranded in Wyoming wilderness

Posted at 6:33 PM, Jul 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-30 20:33:36-04

DRAPER, Utah - A 13-year-old boy from Draper with special needs was rescued after being stranded in the Wyoming wilderness for a day and a half.

Garrett Hunter was with a group of about 20 boy scouts doing a multi-day, 50-mile hike in the Wind River range in Pinedale Wyoming Saturday morning when he got separated from his group.

Thanks to local first responders, several search volunteers from Utah and his own survival skills it ended up being a happy ending.

Sgt. Travis Bingham with the Sublette County Sheriff's Office filmed a video of Hunter after he was reunited with family early Monday morning.

"He was scared, but he was using what he was trained to do," said Bingham.

It was around 9:30 a.m. Saturday that Hunter got separated from his boy scout troop.

"I had to use the restroom, and after I used the restroom, everyone was gone. Of course, I panicked," said Hunter.

By the time the group got to a place with service, it was around 2:30 p.m. They called 911, and search crews came right out.

"We were unsuccessful that day. We started planning for the next phase for the next day," said Bingham.

Hunter's family immediately drove up from Draper, along with 30 to 40 volunteers made up of friends, neighbors, and church members.

Despite an extensive search Sunday, crews found nothing.

"He knew what food he had, what water he had. He was worried about conserving food, so he ate bugs and bark," said Bingham.

"It was my first time tasting bugs, but actually they weren’t so bad," said Hunter.

Most of the search crews came in for the night, but some of Hunter's family and friends decided to camp in the wilderness near the original campsite. Around 10 p.m. Sunday evening, they called out his name.

"He was up above them on a ridge and had heard that and had seen their lights and kind of hollered help back. Took a couple back and forths and they were able to locate him," said Bingham.

"It was really great, like hallelujah, I’m home free," said Hunter.

Hunter, who has Aspergers Syndrome, spent the night camping with four volunteers.

"There was an initial concern because of his Aspergers, he may not come out and say, 'I’m lost, I need help.' We’d have to call out to him, so that’s why the rescuers that did find him were calling out to him," said Bingham.

Crews took Hunter and the volunteers off the mountain early Monday morning in a helicopter.

"They were there at the airport just waiting, and as soon as he got off the helicopter, he just went running for mom, and they had a nice embrace. It was just a great feeling that we could help do that," said Bingham.