August 5, 2008

Autistic Boy Found Safe After Two Days


An 11-year-old autistic Portland boy, lost for two nights in wilderness near Mount St. Helens, was found safe Monday morning.

Just after 6 a.m., Alex Irvin walked to the clearing of the Siouxon trailhead as searchers were mobilizing with dogs. He wasn't injured, although he was hungry, said Skamania County Undersheriff Dave Cox.

"All of the sudden, here he came out of the trail," Cox said. "We were real fortunate."

Alex wandered away from his father Saturday afternoon on the Siouxon Trail, which is about eight miles east of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. The two were touring waterfalls when the 11-year-old ran ahead, Cox said.

His father mounted his own search on area trails before calling sheriff's deputies at about 9 p.m. Deputies began a ground search that night.

On Sunday, the search grew to 70 people and included aircraft from the Washington Air National Guard and Washington State Patrol. Rescuers from Skamania, Cowlitz, Clark, Pierce and Yakima counties also helped with the effort. Searchers scoured the steep and heavily brushed terrain on ATV vehicles, mounted on horseback and on foot.

Rescuers were especially concerned because Alex has autism and doesn't typically respond when he hears his name. But the boy, who was wearing only shorts and a sweatshirt and didn't have food or water, was described as intrepid.

"This young man was a pretty hearty boy for being out in the woods for two nights," Cox said.

Originally published by LAURA McVICKER Columbian staff writer.

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