Jump to content

Missing 5year old in Johnson Valley


Recommended Posts

  • Forum Moderator

Missing 5 year old in Johnson Valley 

ABFECD67-315F-480C-89BC-BF197FE7C061.png

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 57
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Agreed. That idea also popped up in my head about 15 years ago with our autistic son. Over and over again every single trip teaching him where all the landmarks were, daytime or night time riding and

One thing I did when my kids were Very Young and I would take them riding is I would lead them out on a ride and then we would get to a point to stop and I would telll them You Lead us back to camp. I

Seems like a giant waste of time when we still need to get to the bottom of DOM vs chromoly before the season starts back up. 

Posted Images

  • Forum Moderator

According to Sheriff Has NOT been found as of 5:30am

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Forum Moderator

Reports Now that he has been found I am waiting to Confirm

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow stoked this kid was found. He’s got a crazy story to tell when he gets older. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Forum Moderator

Found 3 miles from his camp I read

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow you mean overnight? 😳 holee smokes. My wife would kill me by morning. One lucky little dude. Would love to hear his story from him. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Happy ending.. hope the family and child set boundaries and have precautions moving forward... when our teenage girls ride around camp within a few miles, every kid has water, charged phones and tow ropes (which we've taught them to use)... and they're expected to check-in every few hours. Mostly they go to vendor row or something.

All my kids rode with their teenage friends.

More worried about them getting smoked by a large vehicle than anything else.

abc

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow so glad it turned out that he was found and in okay shape that is so scary, we were out riding with our young grandchildren this week end and when I saw this post it really made me think about the possibilities of one of them getting out of site and lost. Hopefully the family reconsiders boundaries, it can happen so easy. But the happy ending is awesome.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Board Moderator
13 hours ago, ANGRYBUTTCRACK said:

Happy ending.. hope the family and child set boundaries and have precautions moving forward... when our teenage girls ride around camp within a few miles, every kid has water, charged phones and tow ropes (which we've taught them to use)... and they're expected to check-in every few hours. Mostly they go to vendor row or something.

All my kids rode with their teenage friends.

More worried about them getting smoked by a large vehicle than anything else.

abc

my biggest fear.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Forum Moderator

I can't fathom how the parents felt that long night! Glad the kid is alive and well. Peace

Link to post
Share on other sites

I question the judgement of parents who just let their kid take off by himself. Even if the kid snuck off on his bike, it's their responsibility to keep him safe and they failed. They got very lucky, but that's no excuse.

I'm glad he was found safe and unhurt. I hope they learned something from this.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Forum Moderator

Very Thankful the kid was found safe..He stayed with His bike which was good.He slept in his Helmet and was found sleeping next too his bike when the man found him. The man asked the kid if he wanted to him to drain fuel out of his bike and put it in the kids bike so they could ride back together and the kids said YES. That didnt happen as they waited for Search and Rescue to arrive.I read the full story the man posted who found the kid and he did mention he had to prepare himself for the chance that when he found the kid it would be NOT good. Thank God that wasnt the case.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/1/2021 at 12:36 PM, Lord of the Dunes said:

I question the judgement of parents who just let their kid take off by himself. Even if the kid snuck off on his bike, it's their responsibility to keep him safe and they failed. They got very lucky, but that's no excuse.

I'm glad he was found safe and unhurt. I hope they learned something from this.

I question the people who judge people's parenting without knowing the parent the kid or the actual situation.

From what SandTrap posed it would appear the parents did a good job teaching the kid the first rule.  Stay with the bike no matter what.

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

sorry if this mite be a stupid ? but if the bike is out of gas or broken why stay with the bike?if your on a trial like I see he was in the picture  why not walk back the way you came? I guess there is a lot of factors to consider before you walk off or stay with the bike.but if im missing something please explain.

Link to post
Share on other sites
NOTE: I’m posting this long story for myself to help remember what happened.
Well, I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on what was a very emotional Memorial Day weekend. As we commonly do, we went camping out at Cougar Buttes, just outside Lucerne Valley and Johnson Valley, for a weekend of riding our dirt bikes. Sunday afternoon, around 3:30-4:00 pm, we heard from our neighbor camp that a boy from a few camps away was lost in the desert. I rode over to their camp to get more information. The 5-year-old boy had been missing since 2:00 pm, when the family was getting ready to go on a ride. Apparently, they thought the boy, Otto, was just going to warm up around camp, when they were briefly distracted. In no time, the boy was out of sight.
I went back to our camp to tell my family and the Surmons, who were camping with us. My daughter, Heather, quickly suited up and got on her bike to search along with Bob and John Surmon. We split up and quickly canvased the area. Being on bikes, we could travel the area fast, and since we’re standing up, we could see for quite a way. I found one group of campers who said that they saw the kid, which implied that he went a different direction than originally reported. A little later, sheriffs were on scene with a helicopter covering a wide area. No luck. Based on the area we covered, I knew he wasn’t there.
Later on, I had a hunch of which direction he went. John and I went out to explore that hunch, and I lucked out and found PW50 tire tracks in an area with no other tracks. The tracks turned around, leaving shoe prints as well. This was surely the boy’s tracks. John and I continued in the direction I suspected they went, but it was getting dark, and John’s bike didn’t have a light. We went back to camp and reported our findings. Interestingly, we happened to be there while the sheriff was sharing their findings with the family. There was one scenario they were pursuing that might have involved another couple people who were camping nearby that seemed rather scary. I had seen the potential suspects the day before, and felt that they were quite sketchy, so I believed it was plausible.
After that, one of the family members called out a baby rattle snake on the ground about 5 feet away from John and I, heading away. Meaning, it could have gone right under us. In my haste to get out and search, I wasn’t riding in full gear. I only had hiking shoes, shorts, tee-shirt, and an open-face moto-trials helmet. I could have easily been bitten! Heck, I could have accidentally stepped on it and been bitten! A shovel was used to behead the critter. No, not by John or me. I know, these are good creatures, but…
After dinner, I put on proper riding gear and went over to the family, and they said there was a report with maybe a video or picture of the boy around 2:30 pm, in the direction of travel from where I saw marks. This gave me new hope. Well after dark, Bob and I went hunting the area where the report came from. We occasionally ran across search and rescue teams driving their assigned grids. We weren’t finding anything. A couple blocks away hours later, we got our big break; we found tire tracks. We reported them to one of the sheriffs driving around. They were still looking for a better confirmation, which is understandable – dirt bike tracks in this area weren’t uncommon. They had a picture of the tread from the Converse shoes the boy was wearing. I followed the tracks to where the boy turned and put his foot down. There was the Converse tread! We’re on it! Bob relayed the information, while I chased tracks following the Baja Designs headlight outfitted on the bike aided by my new Slyde King flashlight (I love both those lights!). The boy looped to where we first saw tracks, but this time headed the opposite direction. We followed those tracks down a few blocks to where he turned. The problem was, there were two tracks. We followed the tracks back and around a couple blocks, and back to where we saw the duplicates. It was simply a double-back. By this time, lots of volunteers from off-road and recovery groups were showing up to help. It was approaching 2:00-3:00 am.
Unfortunately, all these other vehicles were driving over the tracks, making them hard to find. Ones I’d previously seen were gone.
Bob and I had the unique experience of having kids who rode the same style PW50 bike, so we knew the tracks they made, as well as their riding characteristics. This knowledge, along with the shoe prints, was often useful to help determine the direction of travel, especially during loops and double-backs. With Bob and I being the only ones on dirt bikes, it was easy for us to see and follow the tracks. All the other search parties were in four-wheel vehicles, ranging from side-by-sides to all kinds of 4x4s.
With so many people there, we’d almost given up for the night. However, I had a hunch of which direction he went. We decided to follow the hunch. As we approached every intersection, we carefully inspect it for tracks. We also checked every entrance to properties. We’d gone at least a mile or two down this dirt road on just a hunch. The hope of this plan was starting to turn bleak. Did he go a different way? No idea. And then I saw a path that veered off from the main road. I initially didn’t see anything, but then I finally found tracks. We’re back in the hunt! The boy was heading back into the hills. We followed the tracks for some time, but in some areas, it was a bit difficult, as other vehicles had been through there since the previous day’s afternoon.
Fortunately, the boy mostly stayed on the trail, generally only veering off to make U-turns and the occasional turn. At one trail intersection, he went multiple directions with double-backs and loops. It was difficult to keep track of. Fortunately, Bob was tracking our search patterns with his GPS so we could see where we’ve been. Remember, the desert at night looks the same, whichever way you face. Though I was keeping an eye on various landmarks to know where I was, I was admittedly losing track of which route I had explored. Some, I think, I had explored many times.
The teamwork that Bob and I had as we’d been searching all night was awesome. Whether it was leap-frogging while searching intersections to splitting up to explore various paths, the synergy was awesome. This was the biggest help as a team. We finally got to the point where we were repeating the same loops and double-backs, but not finding another trail. It was about 4:00 am, and Bob’s bike was running low on gas. We went back to camp. Bob shared his GPS information with the command post.
We went back to camp and gassed up and grabbed more water to carry. After a few minutes, dawn started to break, and we were ready to get back out there. At this point, I was never so motivated. I remember saying to Bob, “Let’s go bring this boy home.” We bombed over to the area where we’d last seen tracks. Despite not having any sleep, I was full of energy. It wasn’t long after being back in the area that other people were out there searching, since Bob had given the coordinates to the rescue officials.
Unfortunately, people driving in were covering tracks. I was telling this to one guy as he’s walking all over the boy’s foot prints. Sigh… Another guy started to get a little argumentative when I asked him to drive to the side of the trails so as night to cover the boy’s tire tracks.
Bob and I split up a bit so we could each canvas the area. Again, being on bikes, we could cover ground much faster than the four-wheel vehicles. While I was up on a hill looking about, I saw a coyote running by. You could image my thoughts. Not good. I continued and went back to an area where I’d seen tire tracks before.
I finally got a lucky break when I saw another track I didn’t recall seeing during the night. It was tough, because things look different at sunrise than they do under the light of the moon. I started following it. This went through some terrain I absolutely knew I hadn’t been on during the night. I followed it away from the search area. The tracks kept going and going. It was a nasty, deep sand wash – especially for a PW50, but the tire tracks were defined well enough. I could see the boy used his feet as outriggers for stability. Nonetheless, this kid was a good rider. We’d known that all night. The tracks went on for some ways.
I knew he would be at the end of these tracks. However, one thing kept haunting me. Bob mentioned that we might not like what we find. And he was absolutely right. I kept thinking about that. I want to see this out, but it could be bad. I was still super driven, but the anxiety thinking about that was getting to me as I felt I was getting closer. After all, this kid’s bike had to run out of gas at some point, right? After all the searching during the previous day and through the night, I knew not to always trust my eyes. I chased down so many mylar balloons, broken cooler lids, and Bud Light beer boxes because they all seemed to fit the description of the kid or his bike. At least from a distance.
Up ahead there was a trail that veered off the sandy wash. Just after the split, I see something that didn’t match any of the items above, or any other desert junk. It was too brightly colored. It was him! He was laying on the ground next to his bike. The thoughts of what Bob said haunted me again. As excited as I was, I was scared. I rolled up to the boy. He was wearing his helmet laying next to the bike. His shirt was pulled over his knees, and both of his shoes were sitting on the other side of the bike that was laying on the ground instead of uprighton the kickstand. He was still laying still. But then he started to move and get up. I felt the most overwhelming sigh of relief. I said, “Hey Otto, I’m so glad to see you! Are you OK?” He said yes and took off his helmet. I offered him my water bottle which he held onto and drank for some time. His lips were badly chapped, but he otherwise seemed fine. He was still a bit sleepy, it seemed. I offered him some peppermint candies I had in my pack. He seemed to really like those. I could imagine, having some flavor after not having consumed anything for nearly 16 hours must have been welcoming.
I called Bob to tell him where I was. He was there in minutes. Nobody in the world can ride that kind of sand wash faster than him. Seriously. While waiting for Bob, I relayed my live location to my wife Stephenie, so she could give it to the search and rescue base. I then posted a picture of me with the boy to one of the Facebook groups I saw while eating dinner I’d seen mentioning the search. At that time, I didn’t know how big the search effort really was. When Bob arrived, he called 911. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that. Seems kind of the obvious thing to do, right? But I guess I was thinking that I have the boy and that there’s no longer an emergency? Note to self: call 911 in these kinds of situations. It was about 6:00 am.
Bob and I continued talking with the boy. He told us that he ran out of gas. I joked, would you like me to get gas out of my bike and put it into yours, so we can all ride back together. No surprised that he said yes. He went on to tell us that he races his bike, and that he loves it. He said that’s why he didn’t leave it. He said the bike stopped running (out of gas, I’m sure), and he pushed it for about 5 feet up a slight hill. He said that he wasn’t scared at all. He went to sleep after it got dark, but kept waking up because the helmet hurt his ears. That’s seemingly what bothered him the most of this whole ordeal. That is one tough kid! I know a lot of adults who can’t/wouldn’t do as well as this boy did. He was being as talkative and chatty as any other 5-year-old boy. This whole thing – camping alone by himself in the middle of the desert – was seemingly no big deal. As if he’d done it a hundred times.
Stephenie was with the parents, and they were told that they couldn’t’ come to the boy, but they’d have to wait until he was brought back to the command post by officials. Stephenie and I got each other on the phone again, and she handed it off to the mom so she could speak with her son. This was yet another moment that brought tears to my eyes.
The CHP airplane flew over a couple times and we all waved. Then they did a really low flyby. That was really neat, and I’m sure Otto loved it. A search and rescue team showed up after about 10-15 minutes. Otto was initially scared of them, until Bob and I assured him that they were our friends. He responded the same to the sheriff and paramedics, who soon thereafter arrived to check him out. No surprise, he was cleared as being just fine. Bob and I knew that, but they have to do it. They loaded his bike and gear into the back seat of the sheriff’s truck and loaded him up to go. Bob suggested that Otto ask for them to hit the siren, so when they were driving away, we both smiled when we heard it. That was so cool.
They drove him back to the command base where his family and probably hundreds of people were glad to see him. Bob and I rode the fastest route back we could. Even on dirt roads, it was probably still a 15-minute-plus ride back at speed.
It was such a joy to see Otto back with his family. And it was a pleasure to be able to speak with the parents under much better circumstances. We took more pictures and answered lots of questions. Kind of funny, but Otto gave me back my Camelbak water bottle that he’d been sucking on the whole time (it was refilled when he got back). I wished I would have told him to just keep it, since he seemed to really like it. Oh such a relief after so many hours of adrenaline driving me.
We went back to camp to get some food and sit down and rest. I believe Bob took one of his boys’ old helmets to Otto so his ears don’t hurt so much when he rides. I walked our family over to theirs so they could understand that my family is what drove me to push on. I’m still so impressed by that boy, and he’ll always have a special place in my heart. I hope to see him riding someday.
After we got camp loaded up and drove home, I finally got a nap later that evening, after looking some of the social media and news reports of the situation. I didn’t realize it was so huge. I’ve had a lot of people asking questions. Today, I finally checked the GPS coordinates, and I found that the boy was about 4 miles from his camp, as the crow flies. Of course, that would be impossible with that terrain. I mapped his routes based on the tracks, and I found that his route was at least 16 miles, just based on what I know of for sure. He could have gone more.
Anyhow, I’m glad their family is whole, as well as mine. This could easily happen to anyone. We’ll all live on to ride another day and tell this story many, many times. I’m thankful to know that there is truly hope in people during a real crisis. I saw other campers, local residents, search and rescue, and a lot of the off-road community come together to search for this boy. That was nothing short of awesome. I thank my family for supporting the effort. Stephenie stayed up all night in case I came back needing something urgently. She’s awesome. And, of course, thanks to Bob for being a good friend and supporting my persistence. This was a fortunate happy ending and a learning experience for all.
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Brian Machnach said:

sorry if this mite be a stupid ? but if the bike is out of gas or broken why stay with the bike?if your on a trial like I see he was in the picture  why not walk back the way you came? I guess there is a lot of factors to consider before you walk off or stay with the bike.but if im missing something please explain.

I would think that the bike would be easier to spot from far away. If you just run out of gas, then yes, walking back seems like the thing to do. But if you ran out of gas because you were lost, then staying with the bike might be the thing to do. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I was about 8-10 years old, we were camped in Jawbone canyon.  We were riding over by Dove Springs and I got separated from the group on my Y80.  I was never scared, but turned around and found my way back to camp.  All of that time, my parents and friends were looking for me where we got separated (this was in 1977 or so).  Finally my parents and friends showed back up in camp hours later, and I was sitting there.  I was told right then, when you get lost, you stop and wait.  Someone will find you.  If I would have stopped and waited they would have found me in minutes.  

So glad they found a healthy happy boy that day.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, MWB said:

I question the people who judge people's parenting without knowing the parent the kid or the actual situation.

From what SandTrap posed it would appear the parents did a good job teaching the kid the first rule.  Stay with the bike no matter what.

The fact is, the kid wandered off far enough that it took a large number of searchers and a helicopter 13 hrs to find him. You can ignore that fact if you want, but it is a fact and that fact leads me to believe they are not my first choice for Parents of the Year. If the kid had built a fire visible for 20 mi, that reflects on the kid's resourcefulness. But the kid left camp without a full tank of gas, no radio or phone, no water and ran out of gas. He was lucky and didn't get hurt, but that's pure luck, not any amazing parenting skills. If the kid had died, I'm sure public sentiment would be a bit different.

You can disagree all you want, but that's irrelevant. The fact is, he wandered off right under their noses. That's all it takes to fail. They just got lucky he wasn't hurt. If it had been colder, he might have died from exposure. All he had to do was be in the desert overnight, which is what happened.

  • Like 1
  • Confused 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


Shout Box

Shout Box

You don't have permission to chat.
    ×
    ×
    • Create New...

    Important Information

    Terms of Use Privacy Policy