Missing Nonverbal Teen Used Rocks to Alert Rescuers

16-year-old was helped out of forest after clinking rocks together
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2022 7:31 AM CDT
Missing Nonverbal Teen Used Rocks to Alert Rescuers
Sheriff's deputies help family members search for a missing nonverbal teen in California's Crescenta Valley Park.   (Montrose Search and Rescue Team)

A nonverbal teenager who became lost while hiking in dense wilderness in Southern California was found safe Sunday after he banged rocks together to alert rescuers. The 16-year-old developmentally disabled teen had been hiking with his mother and sister in Crescenta Valley Park in Glendale, Calif., when he uncharacteristically ran off, NBC News reports. Search teams scoured the area for six hours before a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy heard the sound of clinking rocks. "We were hollering down in this canyon, and I heard something come back," Steve Goldsworthy tells KNBC. "It sounded like somebody taking two rocks and putting them together. I could hear the rocks hit, and a slight echo. I could hear that three different times."

The teen's mom "had told me he had this affection for rocks," adds Goldsworthy. "He will go out of his way to kick a rock, pick up a rock, throw a rock … Those were, like, his favorite things." That information proved key even after Goldsworthy spotted the teen "sitting under an oak tree" down a steep ravine, about 400 feet from a fire road and roughly three miles from where he had left his family. To gain his trust, Goldsworthy says he picked up a rock and "threw it down the gully." The teen "looked at me, and he ended up giving me a fist bump," Goldsworthy adds, per KNBC. "After gaining the trust of the missing person, he led him up the mountain to safety," Montrose Search and Rescue says in a release. The teen was then "treated by paramedics and released to his family." (More rescue stories.)

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