PARK CITY — A 9-year-old boy missing since Wednesday night in the Henry’s Fork area of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest was found safe by his father on Thursday.
Stratton Joshua Wright of Idaho was hiking with extended family members west of Bear Lake in the Henry’s Fork drainage area when he became separated from his group about 8 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. The family called 911 about 9:45 p.m.
Crews searched throughout the night, both on ground and in the air, with searchers on the ground, on horseback, and dog search teams joining them in the morning, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.
But it was the father who ended up locating the young boy.
“When dad found out that he was missing he came in from Idaho last night. He arrived at the command post at about 3 a.m., checked in with the search and rescue command and then made a 5 mile trek to where they were camping and started his own search,” said Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez in a news conference Thursday afternoon. “He was actually found by his own father.”
Martinez said the story is a testament to the bond between a father and son.
“We have a father who shows up hours later and I guess that’s a testament to a father-son bond because he was able to find him faster than we were as the professionals,” he said, describing it as a “parent’s intuition.”
After becoming lost, Stratton tried to find his way back to his family, but when he was unable to do so he decided to hunker down by some trees to “conserve energy.”
“Instead of continuing his journey throughout the night he chose to lay down and take a nap for the night so he could get up and be energized in the morning,” Martinez said.
When Stratton awoke he found an open field and stayed there until his father found him.
Martinez described the reunion as a very “emotional moment” and said Stratton, who was in good spirits despite being a little tired and dehydrated, did “everything right.”
According to Martinez, one of the first things Stratton requested upon being found was a Twix candy bar.
“This is a great example of a young man who stayed calm,” Martinez said. “He was self aware and he knew what he needed to do to be found as quick as possible.”
He urged parents to talk with their kids about what they should do if they are ever separated from a group, which according to Martinez, means staying putting, finding an open area and waiting for search and rescue teams.