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Missing Utah man found alive after 5 days in wilderness

A missing Orem man was found alive on Friday after five days spent wandering around in the wilderness near the Montana-Idaho border.
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SALT LAKE CITY — A missing Orem man was found alive on Friday after five days spent wandering around in the wilderness near the Montana-Idaho border.

Kaden Laga, 25, went missing on Sunday while horseback riding with his parents in the Twin Lakes area of Montana. He was reunited with his family — including his wife, Arden Laga, who is expecting a baby — after five long days of searching and praying, his mother, Debbie Laga, said.

“We had prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed to know what to do, and we just all felt the confidence that he was going to be OK,” his mother said. “I can’t even begin to explain to you all the miracles that happened and all the tender mercies.”

Debbie Laga said her son walked into one of many volunteer search camps early Friday morning, after finding his way down the mountain and back onto a trail.

“He just walked into the camp and said ‘Hello, hello, and I need help,’” she said. One volunteer, a friend of the family, “flew out of the tent and grabbed” him, his mother said.

Laga’s family expected that he would need to go to the hospital after the ordeal, his mother said. But when the rescue helicopter doors opened, her son “hopped out and came running across the tarmac.”

Within moments, he was smiling and laughing with his family.

“I jokingly said, ‘You’re going to have to think of a good name for this baby,’” his mother recalled. “He said, ‘I already have. I’ve had a lot of time to think!’”

While trying to find his way back to the trails, the missing man slept about three hours a night and survived on ants, crickets, huckleberries and water, he told his family.

“I asked him, is that going to be on your diet now?” his mother said with a laugh. “And he said, ‘Well, ants are kind of sweet, and grasshoppers, they’re not bad. I really didn’t mind it very much.’”

A Facebook page dedicated to the search for Kaden Laga amassed more than 4,500 followers over the five days that he was missing, as the family posted updates about the search.

“My Kaden is finally home,” his wife, Arden Laga, posted on the page Friday evening. “He was cracking jokes the whole time and was so excited to take a shower, which was about an hour long.... Thank you ALL again so very much!”