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Angel on lost Scout’s shoulder?

‘Indiana Jones’ found Scout, flew him out of woods

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HUNTSVILLE, Weber County — A sign on the entryway mirror in Kent and Peggy Clawson's home reads: Angels — Don't leave home without 'em.

Hollywood star Harrison Ford located their lost son Cody in Wyoming's rugged Targhee National Forest this past week. But the family believes beings more otherworldly than Han Solo intervened to preserve the boy's life during a night in the woods.

The 13-year-old Boy Scout became separated from his troop about 2 p.m. Monday when he missed the trail turnoff while carrying gear from a parking lot to a campsite at Camp Loll, about one mile south of Yellowstone National Park and 40 miles north of Jackson, Wyo.

"I just followed the trail until it ended," he said after returning home Saturday, still smarting from numerous horsefly and mosquito bites dotting his sunburned arms.

Suddenly the freckle-faced Huntsville teen found himself staring into a mesmerizing stand of fir trees. He walked and walked and walked, toting a sleeping bag, air mattress and two empty water packs.

"I packed it around for a long time, until I couldn't pack it anymore," Cody said.

That left him in the wilderness with nothing more than his Scout shirt, Scout belt (which came in handy later), shorts and sandals. And his "guardian angel."

With thunderclouds rolling in over the mountains, Cody decided he'd better build a shelter, something he'd done to earn the Wilderness Survival merit badge last summer. The fierce wind, though, blew down every lean-to he put up.

Soaked and desperate for reprieve from the rain and hail, the Scout spied a rock outcropping across a stream he estimated to be about 5 feet wide. A crack of lightning nearby snapped a tree that he said came within six inches of hitting his head. The next thing he knew, he was on the other side of the stream.

"I just felt like something picked me up and threw me across," he said.

Except for a puddle, the overhanging rock proved an ideal hiding spot from the violent weather. Cody said he fell asleep there. But he wasn't alone. A squirrel curled up around his head, he said, adding there also was "something on my feet."

If he wasn't scared already, having wild critters crawling around couldn't have put him at ease. "I was too tired to freak out," he said.

After a fitful night's sleep — Cody figures he woke up every hour or so — he awakened in the morning to another danger in the Wyoming backcountry: bears. He said he saw four of them lumber past his rock shelter. He doesn't know if they saw him.

At sunrise, dozens of Idaho and Wyoming search and rescue teams scoured the mountains on foot while three aircraft hovered overhead.

Cody said he heard the aircraft and waved his gold-buckled Scout belt over his head to send a glimmer of light into the sky.

Ford, who lives part-time near Jackson and is a helicopter pilot, spotted him about 7:30 a.m. and touched down in a clearing about five miles from the camp. Two rescuers in the helicopter greeted Cody, who was shivering, soggy and splattered with marsh mud. One of them told him Ford was the pilot, but Cody said he didn't believe it.

" 'Morning," Ford said. Cody instantly recognized the voice and the line from a scene in a Star Wars movie, the dialogue for which Peggy Clawson says her son has memorized.

"Boy, you sure must have earned a merit badge for this one," Ford said.

"I already earned this badge last summer," Cody replied.

EMTs treated Cody for mild hypothermia. A bowl of bean soup and a long nap later, the Star Scout (two ranks shy of Eagle) was back at camp. His troop razzed him about not getting Ford's autograph. But Cody said he received something better. "A handshake and a hug."

Kent Clawson, who accompanied the nine-member troop at camp, described the actor as a "very caring, very gracious individual. He was just happy the little guy was found."

And so was Peggy Clawson. She had one of those something-is-not-right feelings Monday.

"For some reason, I spent three hours in this room," she said looking around the living room she calls her "angel room." Angel teddy bears, dolls and paintings adorn every nook and wall.

"We really believe in angels around here," she said. "Especially now."

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com

Contributing: Lynn Arave