Missing Boy Scout Found Alive in N.C.
McGRADY, N.C. (AP) — A 12-year-old Boy Scout who survived in the North Carolina mountains for four days scarfed down chicken fingers after being reunited with his overjoyed parents and explained that he wandered away from his troop because he missed his family.”He was homesick,” said Kent Auberry, father of Michael, at a hospital news conference Tuesday. “He started walking and at one point when he was walking he thought maybe he’d walk as far as the road and hitchhike home.”
A dog caught Michael’s scent less than a mile from the campsite where he had wandered away Saturday. The disappearance touched off an intensive search involving bloodhounds, heat-seeking helicopters and dozens of volunteers on foot.
A 2-year-old Shiloh shepherd called Gandalf picked up the boy’s scent, “popped his head three times” and there was Michael, walking along a stream, said Misha Marshall, Gandalf’s trainer.
“He was a little dazed,” Marshall said. “You are totally overwhelmed. You at first don’t believe he’s the person you’re looking for.” Searchers gave the boy – whom his father described as tired and dehydrated – granola bars, crackers and water. At the hospital after his rescue, he ate chicken fingers and asked for cookies.
Michael “wants to thank Gandalf especially – even though he ate the peanut butter crackers they gave him,” Kent Auberry joked.
It was not clear exactly how the boy was able to survive or whether he put any of his Scout wilderness training to use. Kent Auberry said he still didn’t know much about his son’s ordeal, mostly because he decided not to ask too many questions. “He’s got a tremendous life spirit,” he said.
Michael said he slept in tree branches, drank river water and curled up under rocks. “He saw the helicopters and heard people calling him, but he yelled back and they didn’t hear him,” Kent Auberry said.