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13-year-old keeps dad alive after he was injured by falling boulder

SALT LAKE CITY — Crushed by a boulder, a Utah dad is glad to be alive after a wild week in the wilderness with his son.

It was supposed to be a father-and-son trip to remember, and it certainly was, just not the way they had hoped.

David Finlayson, 52, and his son, Charlie, 13, planned a 12-day hike in the remote Idaho wilderness last week. It was a chance for some father-son bonding and an adventure, but it was a little more than they expected.

Charlie knows what it means to be a good Boy Scout, and he likes to keep the Scouting handbook handy. He looked forward to the chance to put some of those skills to the test far from civilization.

While on a trip to the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, “we were just going to climb, fly fish for a little bit, backpack,” Charlie told television station KTVB in Idaho.

But while on a hike just a few days into the trip, on Aug. 17, “the boulder fell on him, and he kind of tumbled down 20 or 30 more feet,” the Scout said.

Finlayson broke an arm and a leg in the fall. He could barely move.

“He was kind of getting hypothermic because he lost so much blood,” the teen said.

Charlie's training kicked in. He tended to his dad’s wounds for two days. But when it became clear no one was coming, Charlie made a brave decision in a trip already full of tough choices.

“I said a lot of prayers before I left,” he said.

The nearest ranger station was 13 miles away. Finlayson wrote a note and handed it to his son so he could explain what happened and where he was.

The letter reads in part: "I cannot walk, so I need a rescue unfortunately. Please help Charlie find one for me.”

Th Scout set out alone, but just 3 miles down the trail, he ran into two familiar faces from his church. Within hours, help was on the way.

While Charlie certainly got to test his Scouting skills, he also got to test something else: himself.

“Everybody is saying that they can't, but anybody can stay calm as long as they try,” he said.

"We feel blessed that Charlie wasn't hurt. We're sad for David and hope that he'll recover all right," Charlie's mother, Katie Wilstead, told KTVB.

As for her son, "It's just who he is. It's nothing I did. It's how he came," she said.

Finlayson is back in Utah and has already had a couple of surgeries with more to come.

Charlie was only home a day before leaving to go on a Scouting trip where he earned merit badges for wilderness survival and hiking.