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Nonverbal Teen Lost In California Woods Leads Rescuers To Him Using Rocks

Photo: Facebook / Montrose Search and Rescue Team
Rescuers searching for the lost boy

Rescuers searching for a 16-year-old who got lost in Los Angeles' Crescenta Valley Park in Glendale, just south of Angeles National Forest were faced with a unique challenge while locating the boy.

The boy was on a hike with his mom and sister when he ran off into the trees and disappeared on Sunday, April 3.

The teenager was nonverbal and would have no way of calling out for help or responding to those searching for him.

Fortunately, California rescuers got creative while searching the woods for the nonverbal teen.

Everyone has seen it in movies and television shows, rescuers walk around calling out for the missing person, using their voices, sirens, and megaphones to extend their presence over a much wider area.

Unfortunately, this all went out the window when rescuers found out that a nonverbal child had gotten lost in a heavily wooded forest in California.

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The circumstances meant officers had to act quickly to retrieve the teen before anything happened to him.

Despite the challenges, every minute matters in a search and rescue situation so people set out to look for the boy expecting to need to visually see him in the thick forest.

While searching in the dense woodlands, trying in vain to see the boy through the foliage, one search and rescue deputy heard something that stood out to him.

The deputy recognized the sound of rocks clinking together.

Montrose Search and Rescue Deputy Steve Goldsworthy found the missing boy.

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The deputy said that he found the missing 16-year-old "sitting under an oak tree.”

While the boy was nonverbal, the deputy had heard the rocks from a distance and used that to locate the missing boy.

The deputy recalled that the boy's mother had said that he was fond of rocks, saying, “He will go out of his way to kick a rock, pick up a rock, throw a rock.”

Once the boy was found, the deputy needed to gain his trust because there was a risk that he might run off again.

The deputy determined that he would need to build rapport with the boy before he could reliably lead him to safety so he used the boy’s interest in rocks to gain his trust.

Deputy Goldsworthy said of the interaction, “[Rocks] were, like, his favorite things, so I picked up the rock and threw it down the gully, and he looked at me, and he ended up giving me a fist bump.”

From their Goldsworthy was able to lead the boy back to safety and, after being looked over by paramedics, he was released back to his family.

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Dan O'Reilly is a writer who covers news, politics, and social justice. Follow him on Twitter.