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PINEDALE, Wyoming — A small group of people searching for a missing Draper teen told him it was “a miracle” they found him Sunday night, the teen recalled Monday.
Garrett Hunter, 13, was located in “tough terrain” about 1 mile away from his original camp in a drainage area near Junction Lake southeast of Shoshone National Forest about 10 p.m. Sunday, according to Sublette County Sheriff’s Sgt. Travis Bingham.
The group that found him — four members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ward Garrett belonged to — searched an area just south of where others had been searching for the teen.
“It was really great,” Garrett recalled of that moment. “Like, hallelujah, I’m home free! … They were so happy to see me, like they said it was a miracle that they found me.”
His mother, Karen, was there for Garrett after he was flown back to safety Monday morning. “We’re so happy and overjoyed and just happy that he’s home,” she said.
The teen had been hiking with members of a Boy Scout group in the Wind River area near Elkhart Park Saturday morning when he slipped away from the pack to use the bathroom. By the time he returned, the group was gone.
“Of course, I panicked,” he said. “I had some weight on me, so I ditched my tent and some trash and went up the mountain.”
Garrett was reported missing Saturday afternoon. As time went on, he said he began to wonder if he’d ever get out of the wilderness or if he’d ever see his family again.
He kept his backpack and a sleeping bag, and also had some food and a water filter, which he used to drink stream water until he was located. He said he ate ants and bark for extra food until he was located.
“It was my first time tasting bugs. They actually weren’t so bad,” he said.
Garrett was rescued from the mountain area early Monday morning when it was light enough for the operation. Bingham said the terrain where Garrett was found was too difficult for a helicopter to land, which made the rescue take longer.
When asked what people should know if they ever get lost, Garrett gave some emergency tips.
“Have a map with you and a knife in case you get stuck,” he said.
Contributing: Andrew Adams, KSL TV