How This Montana 3-Year-Old Survived a Weekend Alone in the Woods
We reported the incredible news on Sunday night - a three-year-old boy who went missing Friday afternoon near Troy, Montana had been safely located on Sunday.
I'm sure we all had the same question: How did this little boy survive a cold, rainy weekend in Montana mountains all alone?
I was able to catch up with Lincoln County Sheriff Darrin Short for the story. The sheriff tells me that three-year-old Ryker Webb was playing with the family dog in the front yard on Friday afternoon. His father briefly went inside the home. When the family noticed that the boy was missing, they called out for him. The family dog returned, but Ryker did not.
Sheriff Short says the parents and grandparents were "frantic" as they couldn't find Ryker. That's when the massive search began. Complicating search efforts was the massive thunderstorm that moved in on Friday night.
So how did Ryker, a toddler, survive the thunderstorm, the 40-degree temperatures, and any other threat possibly lurking in the woods?
Sheriff Darrin Short: Based on everything I've gathered, I believe that the child traveled approximately two to two and a half miles on Friday. And we had a powerful thunderstorm move through the area on Friday evening. I believe that because of the weather, he took shelter in a shed. And I think he stayed there the entire weekend from all indications.
Sheriff Short says the shed was located near a vacation cabin that was unused at the time. The family that owned the cabin discovered Ryker when they came back to the cabin to assist with the search efforts.
Sheriff Short: He had no food and no water, and that was apparent when we found him....after the person who found him came to our incident command center myself and my patrol captain followed him, he led us back to the cabin. And it was very apparent- they'd given him some water and some food, but it was it was very apparent that he was incredibly thirsty and hungry.
Kids will say the darnd'est things. So what did Ryker say to the sheriff after being rescued?
Sheriff Short: It was actually kind of funny. When I asked him if he'd gone for a walk, and he said yes. And I said, 'Was it a long walk?' And you could hear his voice change. And he said yes. And I said, 'did you walk a long way?' Yes, I did. So it was really, you can see in his reactions that he was very tired and knew that he travelled quite some distance.
Listen to the full interview with Sheriff Short as he praises search crews and other volunteers for finding Ryker:
*Note: initials reports said the boy was four years old. The sheriff confirmed his age is three.