- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 20, 2007

McGRADY, N.C. (AP) — A rescue dog led searchers yesterday to a 12-year-old Boy Scout, who was weak and dehydrated but alive in the rugged North Carolina mountains, about a mile from the camp he had wandered away from four days earlier.

“He was a little disoriented, but he was great,” said Misha Marshall, the South Carolina Search and Rescue Dog Association volunteer whose dog, Gandalf, found Michael Auberry on a wooded ridge.

Michael was across the stream from the trail when Gandalf caught his scent, she said. He wasn’t calling for help, he wasn’t crying, and he appeared to be in good physical condition, she said.

“He just said, ‘I’m hungry,’ ” Miss Marshall said. And he wanted some water.

Joe Ware, assistant fire chief in McGrady, said the boy told the rescue team that picked him up and Miss Marshall up on a nearby road that he had been drinking some water out of the streams in the area.

“He was calm,” though a bit disoriented as he talked to the rescuers, Chief Ware said. “He wanted peanut butter crackers and water.”

Chief Ware said he checked Michael for injuries, then he and the other rescuers carried the boy into a ranger station, where a medical team and his parents met him. He was later taken by ambulance to a hospital.

“We have our missing Boy Scout,” a jubilant National Park Service spokeswoman Tina White said after officials first received word shortly before 11 a.m. that Michael had been found.

The radio communication from the search team that found Michael set off a celebration among leaders of several Scout troops waiting for news about the boy. “A lot of tears, a lot of hugs,” Miss White said, and members of Michael’s church joined hands to pray at the staging area.

Earlier, the boy’s father talked about his confidence in the rescue teams searching for his son in the damp, cool wilderness.

“What we got here is our son, who’s lost, lost somewhere out there, and we don’t know where he is,” Kent Auberry said. “We’ve got great professionals looking for him. We’re just waiting for the news.”

Dog teams, about 70 people and a plane with heat-sensing equipment had been searching the rugged area around the campsite. Overnight temperatures were in the upper 30s to low 40s yesterday, milder than on Sunday night, when temperatures dropped into the 20s.

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