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UPDATE: Search crews find missing 17-year-old in Millcreek Canyon

Search and Rescue are searching for a 17-year-old boy from California who went missing in Millcreek Canyon Thursday. Photo: Unified Police Department

MILLCREEK CANYON – Search and rescue workers in Salt Lake County say they’re stunned a 17-year-old Fresno boy survived roughly 30 hours in the freezing cold in Millcreek Canyon.

Police started getting calls Thursday night after the teen didn’t show up for a dinner in Park City.  Investigators were told the boy had been telling others he would go on a 16-mile hike in Millcreek Canyon.  At first, rescue crews were told the boy was dropped off by Rattlesnake Gulch, near the mouth of the Millcreek Canyon.  Turns out, that was way off.

Salt Lake County Search and Rescue Commander Wayne Bassham says, “The Uber driver actually dropped off our individual about eight miles up the canyon.”

Rescue crews had to completely change their search grid, but, once they did, they saw possible signs near the Red Pine Road Trail.  Bassham says they found “postholes,” which is their term for footprints in waist-high snow.  Plus, they found another troubling clue.

“He took off his shoes, and that’s one of the first signs of hypothermia.  [You think] you get too warm, and you to go ahead and start removing some parts of your clothes,” Bassham says.

Investigators believe the teen continued hiking after he took off his boots.  Crew member Rick Vollmer says they continued to find things near a tree well.

Vollmer says, “We went down into the tree well and found a snow cave, an empty pack, and a pair of Levi’s.  About 75 feet to the north, we found the other boot.”

Finally, their search efforts paid off.

“We walked about another quarter mile and found him alive.  No boots.  No gloves,” Vollmer says.

The boy was flown down to a nearby church parking lot, then taken by ambulance to University of Utah Hospital.  The boy seemed to be in good spirits, but he appeared to have significant frostbite on his feet.

12:07 p.m.

Utah search and rescue crews are working to locate a 17-year-old boy from Fresno, California, who was last seen hiking in Millcreek Canyon. The boy’s family say the boy was wearing the proper clothes, but he told his family he wasn’t an experienced hiker.

The boy, identified Friday as Nicolas, was reportedly visiting a friend in Utah. He planned to hike with his friend, but after they cancelled Nicolas decided to go alone.

Unified Police officials said they believe Nicolas was dropped off near Rattlesnake Gulch Thursday morning. Officers say they aren’t sure if he had adequate footwear.

“He mentioned he was going on a 16-mile hike in the mountains,” said Detective Ken Hansen. “As we know, it’s pretty cold. It’s good that it didn’t snow or rain last night.”

Hansen said the two main concerns are the cold weather and the avalanche danger, which is quite high in that part of the canyon.

Unified Police sent out five search teams and a helicopter into the canyon to search for the boy.

Nicolas was last seen wearing a tan coat, tan snow pants and a black baseball hat. Unified Police ask if anyone sees him, to call the Salt Lake or Summit County offices.