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Tracking device helps find Scout

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Tracking device helps find Scout




He went missing during 50-mile hike in Uintas


By Pat Reavy

Deseret Morning News


A 12-year-old Boy Scout from Riverton on a weeklong 50-mile hike in the High Uintas became separated and lost from his troop earlier this week.


It's a story that has an all too familiar beginning.


But unlike some of the previous tragedies that have happened in recent years, this story had a quick and happy ending thanks to the lessons learned from those past incidents.


Nick Webb left Monday morning to go on the long hike. It's the sixth or seventh year the Scout troop had done the hike, and Webb's two older brothers had successfully completed it in years past, said Webb's mother, Angie Geigle.


The group started on the High Line Trailhead. On Wednesday, as they were hiking to the next part of their destination, Webb became separated from the pack. He reached a part in the trail where the Scouts had to take a sharp right and then hike up a steep hill, his mother said.


Webb missed the turnoff.


"All of a sudden he realized he was by himself and hadn't seen anyone for a while," Geigle said.


But rather than wander aimlessly and become even more lost, Webb stopped and used the tools he was given in case of such a scenario. He blew a whistle and screamed for the others. No one, however, heard him.


At first, Geigle said her son became very panicked and started crying. But after saying a prayer, she said a peaceful feeling came over him.


Webb stayed where he was, got out his sleeping bag, tried making a fire and prepared to stay as long as he needed.


About 4:30 p.m. when the rest of the Scouts reached their destination for the evening, they conducted a head count and realized one boy was missing.


Two of the four Scout leaders went out looking for Webb and knew right where to go because in addition to the whistle and sleeping bag, Webb was also carrying a tracking device, similar to what those in the sport of falconry use.


The troop had checked out the tracking devices from the Great Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts of America specifically for this hike and given one to each Scout. It's the first year the troop had used the trackers.


They were able to go back on the trail, and they were able to find Nick," Geigle said. "When they found him he was asleep in his sleeping bag."


He was found about a half-mile off the main trail, Geigle said.


Webb's experience had the potential to become the latest in a growing list of high-profile searches in recent years for missing juveniles in the High Uintas.


In 2005, Brennan Hawkins, 11, was lost for four days last year in the East Fork area near the Bear River Boy Scouts Reservation in the Uinta Mountains before being found alive.


Garrett Bardsley, 12, disappeared while camping with a church group in the High Uintas in 2004. His body has not been found.


But in Webb's case, everything went right. He stayed put, was prepared with a sleeping bag and other camping supplies, and was equipped with both a tracking device and whistle.


"The Scout leader said, 'If there's going to be a lost child, this is absolutely what you want to have happen,'" his mom said. "I keep thinking about the little guy (Bardsley) they never did find. It's an absolute miracle. We could have been organizing a search and rescue party (Wednesday night). What a frightening prospect."


Geigle now encourages every Scout troop to take advantage of the trackers, which are available for free to be checked out for Scout outings.


Webb and Geigle also credit their faith for giving the young Scout a calm feeling as he sat alone in the wilderness.


"Talk about an answer to prayer to have that peace come over you and not be freaked out," Geigle said. "Heavenly Father watched over and protected him. There's just no question about that."



E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

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Thank goodness for a happy ending. However, I'm constantly amazed at how many groups ignore these basic safety rules:


1) Never lose sight of the group, if they are going too fast, make them slow down.


2) Always have an adult or very mature scout as the sweeper (last member of group).


3) Always do headcounts at every rest break. (They didn't realize he was missing until they stopped for the evening).

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Those are good suggestions, but like most of the BSA training, your suggestions concentrate on prevention, rather than what to do if actually lost.


I agree that prevention is important, but the fact is, despite our best efforts, kids will get lost. All the preventive training in the world will never keep all Scouts from getting lost -- inevitably, a few Scouts will get lost every year.


It sounds like this Scout was actually trained in what to do if lost, and he did the right things (stay put, blow on his whistle, etc.).


BSA could do a much better job of emphasizing what to do if actually lost.

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Those things are expensive. The receivers start at $700 and the transmitters at $150.


I'm glad he knew to stop and make himself comfortable.

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