A lost child in the wilderness can be a nightmare scenario for many parents, but one 10-year-old in Utah managed survive a brief stint in the woods thanks to his father’s lessons.
Malachi Bradley and his family were hiking in the High Uintas near Salt Lake City on Sunday when Malachi became separated from the rest of the group. Since the family was fishing and looking for mushrooms near a remote mountain lake at the time, Bradley was miles away from civilization and faced days alone in the woods. Thankfully, it was something that his father, Danny Bradley, had the foresight to prepare for.
After failing to find his way back to camp or a nearby road, the boy hunkered down and built a makeshift shelter against some warm rocks. Bradley also managed to find fresh water and even fashioned a stick for spearfishing. When rescue crews found him just over a day later in the woods, officials said the boy was in excellent condition.
“He seems unfazed by it, he’s in good condition. He’s a little hungry but he’s been checked out by medical crews and they say he looks good,” Uintah County Sheriff’s Cpl. Brian Fletcher told the Deseret News.
Bradley was fortunate to be found so early, but experts say even one night alone can be dangerous for a young child, especially in low mountain temperatures, which can drop drastically at night. Bradley was also well-prepared and had the presence of mind to aid rescue crews—which scanned the mountainside by helicopter—by staying out in the open and away from tree cover.
“It was weird not having anybody with me, but I just kept going. I knew I had to make it back or my family would be really sad,” Bradley told the Associated Press.
That may be an understatement. Camped only about five miles away from where Bradley huddled against the fading warmth of sun-bathed rocks, his family worried about whether he would succumb to exposure. A large bonfire was built in the hopes that he would see the flames from a distance.
“He’s going to be OK, which is the bottom line,” said his mother, Molly Chrisman.
Chrisman explained that just days before he went missing, her son was practicing what to do if he ever got lost, like building rudimentary lean-tos. Thankfully Bradley was found long before he needed to make the most out of his skills. Except for being a bit cold and hungry, rescuers said the boy was in fine condition—and maybe even a little excited. When asked what he thought of his stay in the woods, Bradley remarked that it was “really fun.”
He did add, however, that on future hikes he will stick closer to his family.
You can see Bradley being reunited with his family below: