SALT LAKE CITY – A 10-year-old boy who disappeared while hiking with family in eastern Utah has been found alive more than 24 hours after he got lost while looking for mushrooms near a remote mountain lake, authorities said Monday.
Malachi Bradley survived by curling up between some rocks as temperatures as dipped into the upper 30s overnight, Uintah County Sheriff Vance Norton said. The boy wrapped his T-shirt around his legs and huddled in his jacket to keep warm in the remote area near the Wyoming border.
Malachi was spotted by a rescue plane Monday afternoon and picked up by a police helicopter, Norton said. He was cold and hungry but otherwise healthy.
"It's like finding a needle in a haystack"
- Kevin Bardsley
"He's actually in great shape," said Norton, but the weather is expected to be worse on Monday night. "We're just happy we got him when we did."
His aunt Lehua Estrada-Brown said she got a text from her husband at the scene saying the boy was found Monday afternoon in good shape. "We are so relieved and happy," she said.
Norton thanked the more than 100 search and rescue workers as well as an airplane and helicopter that combed the rocky terrain, searching for any sign of motion and calling to the boy over a loudspeaker system.
Malachi went missing Sunday morning, after he hiked to Paul Lake with his brother, his sister, his father and his father's friend, Norton said.
When he didn't return after about 30 minutes, his worried father hiked back to the car at Paradise Park Campground in Ashley National Forest, drove to an area with cellphone reception and called 911. The search started Sunday and resumed Monday morning after an overnight suspension.
Though he had a coat and a backpack with him, police worried that a sudden rain or dip in temperatures could raise the risk of hypothermia in the Uinta Mountains about 200 miles east of Salt Lake City, Norton said. The National Weather Service recorded temperatures in the upper 30s in the area overnight.
The boy is from the Salt Lake City area, and his father is an avid hiker and camper who had talked with his son about what to do if he got lost, Norton said.
Paul Lake is near the top of a mountain, at an elevation of nearly 10,000 feet, though the terrain around the lake is relatively flat.
Personnel from neighboring counties as well as the Ute Indian Tribe joined the search for the boy.
It's easy to get lost in the area, and sudden changes in weather can be dangerous, Kevin Bardsley said. His son Garrett Bardsley vanished in 2004 as he walked near the family's campsite in the Uintas, and no trace of the 12-year-old boy has ever been found. His son also went missing in late August, and a snowstorm hit the area within days, he said.
"It's like finding a needle in a haystack," he said. "I've had grown men sit down for lunch, stand up and say they knew which way they were going to the car, looked down at the GPS and realized they would have been going completely the wrong direction."