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Boy Scout Found Alive: 12-Year-Old Built Shelter to Make it Through the Night in Utah Forest


A 12-year-old Boy Scout who disappeared while hiking deep in the Utah wilderness Friday has been found. Fellow scouts became separated from Jared Ropelato at around noon Friday near Daggett Lake in Ashley National Forest.

Twenty searchers failed to find Jared Ropelato Friday and hoped that the boy, who was last seen wearing just a shirt and jeans, was able to find some sort of shelter to make it through the night in the particularly rough and heavily forested area. The area was non-accessible for cars and SUVs, leaving search and rescue operations to rely on helicopter and bloodhound search teams on foot or horseback.

ABC 4 Salt Lake reports that search teams found Ropelato at around 8:40 a.m Saturday, in good condition. The county public information officer told media Saturday that the boy hiked nearly five miles from where he was reported missing, and told crews that he built a lean-to shelter with sticks to make it through the night. Media reports indicate that around 200 people participated on foot and horseback Saturday to help find the boy, including dog teams from Salt Lake City, Ogden and Wyoming.

The Garret Bardsley Foundation issued a call for volunteers Saturday morning to help find the boy. The foundation is named after a 12-year-old Boy Scout who disappeared in the Uinta Mountains in 2004 and was never found. The boy's father started the foundation that bears his name.

The county public information officer said Ropelato's reunion with his family members was extremely emotional, and several of the searchers were also in tears following the positive outcome.

Ropelato's four older brothers are all Eagle Scouts, and his mother Dawn was confident in her son's survival skills when the boy was missing Friday.

"I know he knows all the scout laws so I hope that as he realized he was lost he was smart enough to stop and think about the things that he's been taught."

"I know that he knows to pray," she said to the Desert News Friday. "I personally think that he will be all right and that he will be found well and in good health."

When news came that Jared was found alive and well Saturday, the family's prayers were answered.

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