Boy found safe after night alone in forest

March 2, 2009 2:52:16 PM PST
A 13-year-old boy missing after he failed to return from a map-reading exercise was recovered safely Monday in the Sam Houston National Forest after spending the night alone in near-freezing temperatures. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Cody Moore appeared alert as he was seated on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance after his night in the woods.

A woman who declined to identify herself but appeared to be related to him said he was fine and eating a doughnut.

"He said he had a blast," she said as she hustled into an SUV and drove away. She described him as looking wonderful.

"Thank God for your prayers," she said.

A Texas Department of Public safety helicopter hovering low as part of the search effort apparently alerted the boy, who was spotted waving, said Duane Adams, from Channelview High School and director of the weekend "orienteering" meet that attracted some 350 people to the huge national forest about an hour north of Houston.

"He came out waving his hands and walking on his own," Adams said. "The helicopter hovered over him and the ground crew went in to get him."

The chopper had joined the search Monday after people on horseback and using tracking dogs had failed to find him. The boy was reported missing about 5 p.m. Sunday. Temperatures before dawn Monday had slipped below freezing in the area, where the search went on through the night. He was recovered about 10:30 a.m., about 24 hours after he was last seen.

The student from Crosby Junior High School in east suburban Houston had a map and a compass when he went into the woods shortly before 11 a.m. Sunday as part of a weekend exercise sponsored by the Houston Orienteering Club.

The participants this weekend primarily were Junior ROTC members and some Boy Scouts.

Adams said the exercise teaches navigation -- how to use a map and compass -- and Moore was at the beginner's level, the bottom rung of six levels of experience. Among the training the students get is basic first aid and hydration.

"Apparently what he did was what we call a 180-degree error," Adams said. "He went north instead of south."

He said tracking dogs followed Moore's scent to a road that was intended as a boundary but the disoriented 13-year-old crossed it and headed north in the woods marked by towering pine trees, choking brush and occasional streams.

"We're elated that they found him and that he's OK," Adams said. "We're obviously always worried about this."

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