A 12-year-old Boy Scout displayed an amazing presence of mind when he got lost during a Utah camping trip. The spirited young boy used the survival skills, he learned as a Boy Scout, to build himself a shelter made of tree branches and wood to get through a cold night. He covered himself in dirt to stay warm.
Jared Ropelato of Hooper, Utah, got lost on Friday, while returning to camp from a nearby lake in Utah's Ashley National Forest. He was reported missing by his Scoutmasters at noon Friday in the vicinity of Spirit Lake Trailhead and Daggett Lake, the Associated Press reported.
A search for Ropelato began at 1:30 p.m. on Friday and was suspended at 9 p.m. The search resumed at 7 a.m. on Saturday and he was found at 8:40 a.m. about four or five miles from where he was last spotted.
Ropelato was clad only in jeans and a shirt and had no food or water when he went missing. The resourceful Boy Scout used his training to build a lean to-a crude structure, which kept him warm throughout the night as temperatures dipped to 31 degrees in the area, said Daggett County sheriff's spokeswoman Karen Peterson.
Peterson said about 200 volunteers, in addition to official searchers, were combing the woods, where the scout went missing on Friday afternoon. The terrain, where Ropelato got lost was very rough and accessible only on foot or by horse, which hampered the search operation. Nonetheless searchers scoured the area late into the night for any signs of the boy. After the search resumed on Saturday morning, Ropelato had walked a total of eight or nine miles before searchers on ATVs found him, Peterson said.
Peterson commended the boy for his courage, saying that building the lean-to was "good thinking" and it protected him from rough weather.
Ropelato was found to be in good health by EMTs, who examined him at the search command post.
His family had been desperately anxious about the school boy.
'We don't go very much with him into the outdoors so he's not real familiar with it," Ropelato's father, Larry Ropelato told ABC News.
However his mother, Dawn Ropelato, had more faith.
"I know he knows all the scout laws. I hope that as he realized he was lost that he was smart enough to think about the things he's been taught," she said.
"He did everything right last night. We said he was smart, and he's smart," Dawn told the Associated Press.
Ropelato has four elder brothers, who are all now eagle scouts. It's not surprising that the boy had a few tricks up his sleeve like digging a hole and covering himself with dirt to preserve his body heat to survive the night alone in a forest.
"When I went to scout camp they said we'd stay warm in it. And we'd be able to warm and put the dirt back over you," Ropelato told ABC News.
Asked if he would still go camping after his overnight ordeal, Ropelato simply said "yeah."