A missing child has been found safe after a harrowing two-day ordeal in the cold Montana wilderness over the weekend. Young Ryker Webb, just four years old, wandered out of his own yard south of Troy, Montana, near Bull Lake.
Ground responders, ATV teams, canine teams, drones, helicopters, and boat units all from multiple agencies pitched in for the rescue efforts. A concerned neighbor reported the boy missing after seeing him outside playing with the family dog around 5 p.m. Investigators soon gathered that the boy likely wandered off about two hours prior to the report, according to the New York Post.
Authorities said “two Montana Air National Guard helicopters and drones from Flathead County and Spokane Police responded Saturday; in addition to more dog teams and continued ground and ATV searching. It was extremely difficult to get the additional air assets into the Bull Lake valley due to very poor weather conditions,” they continued.
Overnight temperatures for Saturday reached the 40s, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s office said. Rain, low visibility, and low ceiling in the woods also limited the initial search team’s abilities to look for Ryker in those pivotal first hours. Dense vegetation also made the search “extremely difficult,” sources said.
Authorities said the missing Montana child was hungry and cold, but in good spirits
Lincoln County officials eventually issued a Code Red to all neighbors and real estate owners in the vicinity asking that they search their structures. At that point, heading into Day 2 of the search, the missing person report went nationwide.
The 53-person search team finally found Ryker about 2.4 miles away in the woods of another county. Authorities said he “was in good spirits and apparently healthy, although hungry, thirsty, and cold” when they found him.
The incredible rescue effort consisted of over a dozen agencies. The roster included the “Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, David Thompson Search and Rescue, Bull Lake Volunteer Fire Department and Bull Lake Volunteer Ambulance, Flathead County SAR, Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, Spokane PD, Bonner County Sheriff’s Office, North Valley SAR, Two Bear Air, Montana Air National Guard, Libby Volunteer Fire Department, Montana Fish, and Wildlife & Parks. A large group of experienced outdoorsmen and families also responded from Sanders County.”
The sheriff’s office shared a picture of the boy on their Facebook page after the rescue. He was wearing tattered pajamas and apparently had a bloody nose; but he was smiling and looked happy to have survived.
Authorities did not release any news regarding the parents of the child; or comment on any potential negligence regarding his disappearance.
Many other community organizations including churches and a halfway house contributed to the efforts, too. They did so by providing meals and pop-up lodging for the search and rescue teams.