Autistic Man Survives Ordeal in Utah Desert

Autism News
DENVER) – A 28-year-old autistic man from Colorado was discovered emaciated but alive on Thursday after living off mainly frogs and roots while wandering for about 3 weeks within the remote Escalante Desert of southern Utah, authorities said.William Martin LaFever of Colorado Springs, Colo., told rescuers that as well as the items of food he scavenged, he drank water from the Escalante River while attempting to walk from Boulder, Utah, to Page, Ariz., a distance of around 90 miles or even more with the route he seemed to be taking.

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Department estimated he previously traveled about 40 miles before he was discovered.

“It is a few

of the very mostrugged, unforgiving terrain you can find anywhere on Earth, jagged cliffs, stone ledges, sandstone, sagebrush, juniper,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Becki Bronson said throughout a telephone interview.“Where William was hiking, there is just not anyone

around,” she said. “There aren’t people. There isn’t any towns.”The sheriff’s department said it was remarkable that searchers aboard a helicopter could find LaFever in any way, a smaller amount alive.

Deputy Ray Gardner, who had recently completed training in search and rescue operations for people with autism and was aboard the helicopter, said LaFever will not have survived another Twenty four hours.

The helicopter took LaFever to Garfield Memorial Hospital in Panguitch. A healthcare facility said it couldn’t release any info upon his condition.

LaFever was hoping to get to Page because his father, John LaFever of Colorado Springs, told him he would wire money to him in there, the sheriff’s department said in a written release.

William LaFever had called his father on June Six or seven to express he was hiking within the Boulder area together with his dog, which someone had stolen his hiking gear and that he had money. John LaFever told his son to trap a ride to Page to gather the cash.

Unbeknownst to his father, William LaFever apparently decided to hike down the Escalante River and then hitch a boat ride along Lake Powell to Page, rather than try to catch a ride, the sheriff’s department said.

LaFever put down down the river but ran out of food. His dog left him, and LaFever began abandoning his gear until all he previously was the clothing and shoes he was wearing while he was discovered, the sheriff’s department said.

The dog was not seen since. Authorities

don’t knowwhy the dog ran off, Bronson said.The early June phone call was the last time the family heard from LaFever, and his sister reported him missing on Monday, the sheriff’s department said.

A telephone message left at the LaFevers’ home in Colorado Springs wasn’t immediately returned.

Gardner’s training in searching for people with autism taught him they are naturally drawn to water, so the helicopter search focused on the Escalante River, the department said.

The helicopter team spotted LaFever Thursday afternoon, sitting in the Escalante River about five miles from Lake Powell, weakly waving at the aircraft.

Gardner was dumbfounded when LaFever identified himself because of the long odds of finding anyone in that country, the sheriff’s department said.

“In all my career I have never seen someone so emaciated,” Gardner was quoted as saying in the sheriff’s department release. “I could not believe that he was alive, and feel certain that in another 24 hours he would not have been alive.”

Gardner didn’t immediately return a phone message late Thursday.

LaFever was so weak that he couldn’t stand, but he was so eager for human contact that at first he would not stop talking long enough to eat or drink anything, the sheriff’s department said. He eventually took a drink and ate a granola bar.

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