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Utah man survived on bugs and berries while lost in Idaho-Montana wilderness

By Lauren Bennett, KSL.com | Posted - Aug 16th, 2019 @ 10:47pm



SALT LAKE CITY — What could’ve taken a tragic turn is instead a story of triumph and happy endings for the Laga family.

This past week was a wild one for Kaden Laga, quite literally. Before he was found early Friday morning, the 25-year-old had been lost in the Selway-Bitteroot Wilderness, near the border of Idaho and Montana, since Sunday after a family horse riding trip went wrong.

After the horse he was riding went lame, Laga became separated from his family with limited supplies and clothing, according to updates from his family. Laga’s mother, Debbie Laga, said Friday that Kaden Laga volunteered to walk the rest of the way since the group was now down one horse. When he never made it to the predetermined meeting spot, authorities were notified.

“I don’t think people realize what a vast wilderness Montana has, and just I mean how far it is between trails and things,” Debbie Laga said Friday.

Relief flooded thousands of people when the news he had been found was posted on the Facebook page “The Search for Kaden Laga,” which was dedicated to updates on the situation.

Debbie Laga had gone to bed about an hour before her daughter screamed out the good news Kaden Laga had been found. The family had a sort of mission control operation set up in their home to monitor the crews of volunteers, friends and family who were searching — it was through this system Kaden Laga’s sister saw the good news, Debbie Laga explained.

Kaden Laga was found in good health about 2:45 a.m. Friday when he wandered into the camp of one of the volunteer search groups. He told the family he only slept three hours per night and spent most of his time walking around the wilderness, searching for a trail.

“He’s smart, he’s a smart kid and he used that,” Debbie Laga said of her son.

He had finally found a trail when he saw a light and a tent that led him to the search crew’s camp, she said.

There was plenty of water in the area and Kaden survived off of bugs and berries, his mother said.

“He ate grasshoppers and ants and he said ‘Did you know that ants are kind of sweet?’” Debbie Laga said.

Aside from appearing skinny, Debbie Laga said her son was acting perfectly normal.

“He was his same hilarious funny self,” she said. “He looks great. He was dirty as all get out but he looked wonderful.”

Debbie Laga said she and her family hadn’t heard her son’s entire story yet, considering he hadn’t been home for too long. She added that the family had plans to retrieve the lame horse from the wilderness soon. The horse refused to move but was left in a safe area with plenty of grass and water, she said.

Kaden Laga’s wife, Arden Laga, posted on Facebook that her husband “was cracking jokes” once they were reunited and he was excited to finally take a shower.

“My Kaden is finally home,” she wrote in the post.

Contributing: Mary Richards, KSL Newsradio

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