A Darby teenager walked out of the Bitterroot wilderness Saturday morning after a massive response was mounted to find the boy who had been missing since Thursday.

Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman said the unidentified 16 year-old was lost in the Hughes Creek area.

"We spent the last two days searching for a 16 year-old Darby youth who had gotten separated from a family friend while hunting for mushrooms in the Hughes Creek area," Hoffman said. "The young man spent two cold nights dressed only in a t-shirt and shorts in pretty rugged terrain."

Hoffman said the teen was able to get a cell call out to his mother at one point.

"He became disoriented in the hills, but was able to get high enough to get a cell phone call to his mom," Hoffman said. "He told her he was lost and needed help. The family went up and tried to find him, but couldn't, and at about 11:30 p.m. on Thursday they contacted the sheriff's office and search and rescue was dispatched to the area."

Hoffman said there was a massive response by authorities from all over the state and even in Idaho to find the missing boy.

"We had no less than five separate air entities in the form of helicopters that came to assist," Hoffman said. "That included Life Flight from Missoula, Canyon Lake helicopters from the Bitterroot here, the 40th helicopter squadron out of Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, and Summit Air Ambulance out of Belgrade.We also had Lemhi County Search and Rescue through the sheriff's office over in Salmon, hunting for this young man on the Idaho side, as well as some assistance from Forest Service aviation. A lot of folks were out looking for this young man, and we're all awfully glad it turned out the way it did."

Hoffman said the teenager walked out from the middle of the search area, but was unable to get the attention of pilots who were searching for him.

"When we interviewed him he was suffering from some obvious mild exposure, considering he was dressed only in shorts and a t-shirt, but not nears as bad as it might have been," he said. "I guess the message here is please don't go into these mountains unprepared. He was able to walk out under his own power, and we're all glad of that."

Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman


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