Alaska 5-year-old found dead 3 days after mom left him alone to find help as they got lost on hiking trail
KETCHIKAN, ALASKA: Rescuers have found the remains of an Alaskan five-year-old boy near a popular trekking trail, two days after he and his mother had become lost during a hike.
Jennifer Treat, 36, and her son Jaxson Brown, 5, of Ketchikan, had gone hiking on the 13.7-mile Lunch Creek Trailhead on Wednesday, March 25, when they became "disoriented" and lost the trail, according to a press release by the Alaska State Troopers.
The pair spent the night together, and in the morning, Treat decided to leave Jaxson on his own to seek help because the young boy was reportedly "tired and didn't want to hike anymore." Her intention was to go and get help as the boy was too big for her to carry.
However, in her rush to find help, the mother tripped on a root and "significantly injured" her leg. She was found the next day by Alaska State Troopers three miles up the trial with a broken ankle. Search and rescue personnel brought her back to the trailhead, from where she was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery.
They then immediately began looking for Jaxson, with approximately 20 ground searchers deployed in the task.
Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad head Jerry Kiffer said the mother indicated to them that they had started their hike about three hours before dark on Wednesday.
"She indicated that they had gotten up into deep snow about knee-deep snow, turned around, came back," Kiffer revealed, adding that the boy had been placed in a dry spot underneath a tree before he was left alone.
He also explained that he was against the idea of asking for the public's help because "the more people that we have out there, the more signs that they are going to leave in the woods that we can’t account for."
The United States Coast Guard was eventually called to help and flew one of its helicopters with thermal imaging cameras to support search efforts. The ground search had to be suspended late that night as darkness fell.
At around 2:45 pm on Saturday, March 28, ground searchers discovered Jaxon tragically deceased. His remains were recovered and the next of kin was notified, though a cause of death is yet to be released.
Kiffer, nonetheless, thanked the Ketchikan community for their help in the effort. "We can’t express enough gratitude for the way the public has supported our operations both in and the offering of personnel, food, warm drinks […] delivered both to the operations center and to the scene," he said.
Jaxson's death came just a day after a four-year-old Alabama girl who was also reported missing on Wednesday was found safely in a forested region less than a mile away from her home. Evelyn Vadie Sides had disappeared after wandering away from her babysitter, who is in her 70s, from her home in the small community of Loachapoka, just west of Auburn, and sparked a massive search that saw hundreds of law enforcement officers from multiple agencies, as well as drones and horses, involved.
She had been missing for close to 48 hours before she was finally located on Friday afternoon in woods close to her home, with her dog, who had gone missing with her, staying loyally by her side until rescuers reached her.