As he came out of the woods on a stretcher, wrapped in thermal blankets, It was a happy ending to a long night lost in the woods for 6-year-old Joseph "Jo Jo" McCray. He was checked out and released from a hospital Sunday.
"He was very cold when they found him. They did work to warm him up some. His feet were a little wet but not really bad. He did have a good amount of clothing on for what he was doing and it helped over night," said Arlington Fire Chief James Paustian.
McCray disappeared near exit 3 off route 7 in Sunderland after he was told to spread out in the woods as part of a family deer drive. Vermont Game Warden Sgt. George Scribner said if you're going to spread out, you need to be prepared. "Sit down with the kids, have a plan, make sure they have means of communication whether it's a cell phone or radio," he said.
But McCray had none of those -- not even a whistle. Crews say he was lucky to be found safe about 1.75 miles from where his family remembers last saw him. Police say once it got dark, McCray stayed put under a tree, which Scribner said is the best thing to do from the start. "If you get turned around, lost, split up from the group -- sit down immediately and we'll come and find you," he said.
He said wandering away widens the search area and makes search and rescue efforts take more time. And traveling at night can be treacherous. "Navigating in the night through the woods without a flashlight is particularly dangerous, as far as falling into something, injuring yourself and not being able to move now," Scribner said.
While there are ways to reduce you're risk of getting separated or lost in the woods, Scribner said you should be prepared just in case. "It's a good idea to have means to start a fire -- lighter, matches. And some means to build a shelter -- you know, a little hand held saw," he said.
And, he said if you don't know how to use matches, build a shelter or read a map or compass -- you should not go hunting alone.
Sunday was the last day of rifle season and Scribner said despite this little boy's long night, all in all it appears this hunting season was safer than in 2011.