How a 10-Year-Old Survived Getting Lost in Utah’s Wilderness

Malachi Bradley got lost while camping with his family in Utah's Unitas Mountains.
Malachi Bradley got lost while camping with his family in Utah's Unitas Mountains.Holger Leue / GETTY

If you're ever lost in the wild outdoors, follow the lead of 10-year-old Malachi Bradley, who survived a cold night alone in Utah's Uinta Mountains after getting separated from his family. In something out of a Man vs. Wild scenario, Bradley's family was camping near Paul Lake, about 200 miles east of Salt Lake City, when the 10-year-old decided to go foraging for mushrooms. Unable to find his way back, Bradley relied on his father's survival lessons while not letting fear get the better of him throughout the 28 hours he spent in the woods.

Colorful mountains capped with snow

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As temperatures fell into the 30s, Bradley, who only sustained minor cuts, worked with what few resources he had to stay warm. "He used large rocks for shelter, wrapping a T-shirt around his legs and staying huddled inside his jacket," reported ABC News. "He also used the jacket to filter water to drink."

While 100 rescuers scoured the area, Bradley stuck to his instincts. "I thought if I was in an open space, maybe the helicopters and them could find me," said Bradley. "So I sat there most of the day waving at helicopters." Bradley was discovered by the search crews and reunited with his family the next day, so his story is a lucky one. Although luck isn't really what saved him.

"Hypothermia, a drop in core body temperature, is one of the biggest killers of all outdoor enthusiasts," says Cody Lundin, founder and lead wilderness instructor at Aboriginal Living Skills School. "He did the right thing by finding whatever shelter he could, keeping his core warm. It sounded like he more or less stayed in place once he knew he was lost. This cut down on the land area that search and rescue needed to sweep."

"The most important thing is the boy kept his head and was able to rationally think about his situation," adds Lundin. "This level headedness allowed him to do activities that helped his survival."

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