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This Story of a Lost 6-Year-Old Ended Differently

Cody Sheehy saved himself in 1986
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2018 1:45 PM CST
This photo shows Wallowa Lake, near Enterprise, Ore.   (AP Photo/The Observer, Katy Nesbitt)

(Newser) – In 1986, a 6-year-old got lost in the Oregon woods. He was found 18 hours later. On the surface, that doesn't seem like much of a story (compared to, say, this), but what makes Cody Sheehy's ordeal different is that "he saved himself," as Emma Marris writes for Outside Online. He was playing with his 9-year-old sister on their property in remote Wallowa County when he realized he had lost his bearings. He didn't do what lost kids are taught to do—stay put—or what they often do instead—walk in circles. He spotted a road, thought it might lead him to somewhere, and luckily picked the proper direction to travel: out, not deeper into the mountains. By the time a search and rescue team was assembled, he was already miles away, and well beyond their perimeter.

After walking as many as 9 miles, he came to a fork, and chose to go right. The 6-year-old then second-guessed that decision, but his feet were bothering him to the point where he didn't want to retrace his steps. Instead, he decided to cross Howard Creek and continue to the other road, only to fall in and get wet. The remainder of his story involves two coyotes, "tunnel vision," and a helpful teenager. All told, he walked somewhere between 14 and 20 miles and ended up with acute tendonitis so bad he was on crutches. But Marris doesn't just revisit Sheehy's past: She explores a larger question about the now-39-year-old: "Did that dark, long, bone-breaking walk make him the person he is today or merely reveal the inner strength he’d had all along?" Read her full piece for the answer. (Read more Longform stories.)

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