SILVER CITY, Mich. (AP) — An 8-year-old Wisconsin boy who spent two days lost in a remote, rugged northern Michigan park before being found says he prayed during his ordeal that he wouldn’t be “stuck out here for the rest of my life.”
Nante Niemi said he was helping relatives gather wood at the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula when an uncle told him to return to camp last Saturday afternoon.
“So my uncle, he said to go back to camp and I couldn’t say, `I don’t know the way back to camp’ because he’d already turned around and left,” he told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Nante said he started walking toward where he thought his family had been camping but ended up lost, by a river.
His mother, Jessica Buerger, said that after the group returned to the campsite and found that Nante wasn’t there, they searched for him before calling for help.
“I was worried about the cold and that he was by himself, …” she said. “We were hoping he wasn’t walking around that night, and he’d hunkered down.”
More than 150 people from various law enforcement groups joined the search on foot, in the air and on water for Nante, who is a second grader at Hurley School District in Wisconsin.
Lt. Jason Wickstrom with Michigan State Police said the area where he became lost in the 60,000-acre (24,281-hectare) park along Lake Superior is “very hilly, rough terrain” with rivers that were running high after snow melt and recent rainfall.
Nante spent Saturday and Sunday nights alone amid overnight temperatures that fell into the 40s.
“I prayed for being found and not stuck out here for the rest of my life,” he said, adding that he ate snow to stave off hunger during his predicament.
“I just ate snow because I usually do it at home, too,” Nante said.
After spending the first night alone, he said he saw a helicopter hovering overhead and waved his hands and yelled but the chopper’s crew didn’t see him below. But after his second night alone, Nante said he woke to noises, including people yelling his name Monday afternoon.
“And then I saw somebody. I ran straight to them,” he said. Nante recalled that a Clif bar and a sandwich the searchers gave him tasted good after he was found about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from his family’s campsite.
Despite the frightening experience, he said, “I’m still going to go camping.”