Lost teen hiker found, shoeless but safe, in Millcreek Canyon

A lost 17-year-old hiker has been found. Photo: Unified Police Department. Map: Google Maps

MILLCREEK CANYON, Utah, Jan. 3, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — A 17-year-old boy who took an Uber up Millcreek Canyon for a 16 mile hike Thursday morning was found safe, about 30 hours later, barefoot and without gloves, sitting in a mountain clearing.

“He’s extremely lucky,” Commander Wayne Bassham, Salt Lake County Search and Rescue, told reporters near the scene on Friday afternoon.

“You’ve got an individual who went hiking yesterday with no food, no water, no backpack, his cell phone wasn’t turned on, no flashlight, no way of making fire, and he survived the night. Now, how he did that, he’ll have to tell us later.”

The mental status of the teen, identified only as Nicolas, had likely been affected by the cold, Bassham said.

“To be hiking without shoes — and he didn’t have shoes with him — that’s a definite sign of hypothermia.”

Nicolas, visiting from California, had told a friend he was going on a 16-mile hike, but did not mention the name of the trail, Detective Ken Hansen, Unified Police Department, told Gephardt Daily on Friday morning.

“We did some air searches last night, and we’re trying to do more,” Hansen said at 10:40 a.m. Friday. “Crews are on scene, and there are more on the way.”

Nicolas was dressed in winter clothing, but has little or no experience with cold-weather hiking. According to reports from the scene, Nicolas had taken food, but abandoned it on the trail.

Ultimately, Nicolas was found in the Red Pine area of Little Cottonwood Canyon, reportedly about 6 miles from where the Uber driver had dropped him off, which was at 8 miles up the canyon. Nicolas was was spotted by two backcountry skiers, who summoned help.

Nicolas had signs of frostbite, and was transferred to a nearby hospital for assessment and treatment.

He was found in a clearing, not on a trail, officials said, adding that someone less healthy and fit might not have survived the night.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera also spoke near the scene.

“We’re just really happy with the outcome,” she said, adding praise for search and rescue teams, Department of Public Safety helicopters and the skiers who spotted Nicolas.


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