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4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard #14542728 02/05/20
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JeffA Offline OP
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On Sunday, four children from Nunam Iqua said they were going on snowmachine to the dump just outside town. They ended up 18 miles south of the village, on the Black River, where they spent over 24 hours outside without shelter. Nunam Iqua is a Yukon river Village near the Bering Sea coast 500 miles northwest of Anchorage, Alaska.

[Linked Image from dynaimage.cdn.cnn.com]

When searchers from Scammon Bay found them on Monday, they reported, the kids were not in good condition.

Bryan Simon and his team of search-and-rescue volunteers left Scammon Bay around 10:30 a.m. Monday. Snowmachining along the Black River, Simon scanned the white landscape for any minute detail, as he’s been trained to do.

A hundred yards away, on the highest snowdrift, he saw something he said was suspicious.

“It didn’t look normal, it didn’t look like anything. And then as I got kinda closer, I seen movement,” Simon said. “I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

He signaled the rest of his four-man team, and they approached what they would learn were the four missing boys from Nunam Iqua.

“Right away, I look for that little infant. When I got kinda close to them I thought I only seen one kid,” Simon said.

That’s because Simon saw just one mass, all four children bundled together. They had dug a hole in the snow, about a foot deep, 3 feet in diameter.

[Linked Image from img1-azrcdn.newser.com]

“The infant was in there,” Simon said. “And the boy laid over the infant, and on his left side, a little older boy covering the draft. And the 7-year-old was laying right above them like he was blocking the wind.”

“They were protecting the baby,” said Herschel Sundown, Simon’s teammate.

Sundown, a former health aide, approached the scene and started assessing the children. The oldest had on a pair of sweatpants that had become soaked. One of the other boys was missing gloves.

“I won’t get in exact detail, out of respect for the boys, cause from what I hear, they’re still in some critical condition. I’ll just say it didn’t look good,” Sundown said.

The rescue team immediately got to work, slowly warming the boys. They removed the boys’ wet clothes and wrapped them in parkas the search members had been wearing.

“One of the guys put a canvas tarp over us and we huddled with all of them to try to give out some heat to them,” Sundown said.

Then he started peppering the boys with questions.

“What they can and cannot feel," Sundown said. "If they’re able to feel us touching them." He did not say whether the boys could feel their touches.

During this time, the search team’s leader radioed the Coast Guard.

“And I wanna say 15 minutes or less, we were able to hear a helicopter coming,” Sundown said.

[Linked Image from i.dailymail.co.uk]

The mission may have ended for the searchers, but for Christopher Johnson, 14, Frank Johnson, 8, Ethan Camille, 7, and 2-year-old Trey Camille, the battle is not over. The Coast Guard transported the children to Bethel, where they were being treated for severe hypothermia at the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corp. hospital.

Still, these are boys who have already defied the odds. Sundown says their rescue was lucky. They were in an area other searchers had passed through multiple times without seeing the children.

“And it’s just the angle that we came in that we were able to spot them,” Sundown said. “We didn’t think we would find them, but we did.”

Plus, they survived over 24 hours outside, through the night, forming a human shelter for the 2-year-old brother to stay warm.

“In all honesty, I don’t know how they survived,” Sundown said. “The will to survive in these boys is amazing. I have never seen anything like that.”

In addition to Scammon Bay, groups from Nunam Iqua, Alakanuk, Emmonak, and Kotlik also participated in the search. Hooper Bay and Chevak were available on standby while the U.S. Coast Guard and National Guard provided assistance from the air.

Alaska State Troopers coordinated the statewide effort that brought the four missing boys from Nunam Iqua in from the cold.

BP-B2

Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: JeffA] #14542796 02/05/20
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Quote
they survived over 24 hours outside, through the night, forming a human shelter for the 2-year-old brother to stay warm.



they didn't learn that playing video games.


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Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: watch4bear] #14542861 02/05/20
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JeffA Offline OP
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Originally Posted by watch4bear
Quote
they survived over 24 hours outside, through the night, forming a human shelter for the 2-year-old brother to stay warm.



they didn't learn that playing video games.


You can say that again...

The story I posted here is far from complete.
One on the weather station.com says the temps were in the single digits with 30 mph winds, chill factors were well below zero.

It's also being stated that one hour after they left their home the storm rolled in creating a ground blizzard.
For anyone that has never found themselves outside and caught in a sever ground blizzard, visibility can be down to 5 to 10 feet fast, disorientation is a absolute given..

The searchers that had been called upon just hours after the kids had departed had to turn back and pick-up their efforts the following day......

Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: JeffA] #14542872 02/05/20
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As Jeff said. We beat one such into Pt Hope by a hair. We saw it coming - an ugly putrid pale yellow cloud - when about 10 miles out and hauled ass. The last mile was in the blizzard. I could barely see the glow from the snow machine taillight 20 feet ahead. We navigated off the wind, and the fact that we would notice the beach ice on both sides if we strayed too far, and it funneled us right in.

On the other hand, the dump wasn't 18 miles away....., but that's what kids do sometimes.- push the envelope of what they are supposed to be doing. Or not doing. Or going. I'm guessing they were not at the dump when it hit....

It's a wonder there are 8 billion people in the world! smile

I'm hoping they all recover well, with no loss of body parts.

Last edited by las; 02/05/20.

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Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: JeffA] #14542874 02/05/20
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Wow, hope there condition continues to improve.
Sturdy young boys protecting the youngest.


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Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: las] #14542893 02/05/20
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Originally Posted by las
On the other hand, the dump wasn't 18 miles away....., but that's what kids do sometimes.- push the envelope of what they are supposed to be doing. Or not doing.

It's a wonder there are 8 billion people in the world! smile


Kids?

That was always my line when I was leaving the house to go run about.
I had to explain it to a GF one time that when I say I'm going to the dump to shoot beer bottles it is just a general term.. I might end up anywhere..

I am hanging onto it that these kids just got disoriented in the ground blizzard that occurred and kept pushing it in attempt to find their way home..

Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: JeffA] #14542949 02/05/20
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I'm glad they made it and are safe.

I know it's Alaska and all, but what the hell is an 8 year old, a 7 year old, and a 2 year old (that's right, a 2 year old) doing going for a snow machine ride to the dump for?

Last edited by StoneCutter; 02/05/20.

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Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: StoneCutter] #14543211 02/05/20
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Originally Posted by StoneCutter

I know it's Alaska and all, but what the hell is an 8 year old, a 7 year old, and a 2 year old (that's right, a 2 year old) doing going for a snow machine ride to the dump for?


Why not?

[bleep] happens, and hindsight is 20/20, but BACK IN MY DAY ( smile ) kids pretty much did what they wanted... just had to be back for supper.

Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: JeffA] #14543244 02/05/20
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While the fact they survived is surprising it shows they have a pretty good idea what they are doing in seriously cold weather.


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Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: JeffA] #14543631 02/05/20
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That’s an incredible story.


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Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: JeffA] #14545129 02/06/20
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Mother Of Found Nunam Iqua Children Says They Will Make Full Recovery

[Linked Image from adn.com]
Guessing that the dump is at area in the lower part of this image at the end of the road with speckled white debris laying about. ~jeffa~


The four Nunam Iqua brothers who were found in the snow on Tuesday, Feb. 4, will make a full recovery according to the boys’ mother, Karen Camille. She spoke with her sons by phone on the morning of Feb. 5.

“I just asked how they’re doing, and they said they’re good and they just want me to go to them,” Camille said.

The boys range from 2 to 14 years old. Alaska State Troopers reported that all four children were initially transported to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation in Bethel. Troopers report that one brother is still there, two were released, and another was flown to the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. ANMC spokesperson Shirley Young confirmed that 7-year-old Ethan Camille is currently hospitalized in their facility, and that his condition is “serious but stable.”

The boys’ mother added that her 14-year-old son, Christopher Johnson, was in bad condition after shielding his younger siblings from the wind. While her sons have been fighting a physical battle, Camille has been engaged in an emotional one.

“Tired still,” Camille said of how she’s feeling. “Wanting to go to my boys.”

Camille says that she misses her children, and that she’s proud of her older boys for protecting their 2-year-old brother. She plans to visit them as soon as she can.

location 18 miles from village where the children were found

[Linked Image from adn.com]

Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: JeffA] #14546733 02/06/20
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Quite a crew to survive that! Amazing God bless those kids!


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Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: JeffA] #14546748 02/06/20
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Jeff, thanks for posting this. That is just incredible! Life is so fragile, I'm glad those older boys had the sense and courage to do what it took to protect the little ones.

Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: JeffA] #14546854 02/06/20
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Wow. Glad they are ok.


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Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: JeffA] #14546964 02/06/20
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These kids are tough. Like many Alaskan kids living remote, they are capable, they have to be.

My current thoughts are with their mother, I suppose it's a logistics or finances or a combination of both.

But she has yet to see her children since they rode off on the snow machine last Sunday.

Her kids were whisked off via helicopter, some to Bethel another to Anchorage, hundreds of miles from their home in Nunam Iqua. Not too many moms I know of could deal with not being with their children when they are injured and in strange places with people they don't know. Those phone calls just take you so far..

Alaskan moms are tough too....

I hope they are able to return home and soon!

Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: JeffA] #14546994 02/06/20
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Yeah, the one in Anchorage probably has some skin grafts in his future, as a guess.


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Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: JeffA] #14562577 02/11/20
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7-year-old Ethan Camille who went missing with his cousins after a blizzard shares his story from the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, Ethan recounted how he and his cousins tried to survive.


The oldest of the boys, 14-year-old Christopher Johnson suffered a hernia fighting to get the snowmachine and his younger siblings out of the snow, but he is also doing well and is being taken care of by his dad.

The other two boys, 8-year-old Frank Johnson III and 2-year-old Trey Camille, were released from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation earlier this week and returned to Nunam Iqua..

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

The boys’ mother has started a GoFundMe fundraiser for travel, clothing, and meals as she travels to Anchorage to be with her son.

[Linked Image from cdn.cnn.com]

Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: JeffA] #14573121 02/14/20
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I read some of the comments when this latter piece came out. Outraged clueless anti-hunting liberals (presumably) want the kids prosecuted for running down that fox with the snow machine.

I agree that is not an ethical (or legal) thing to do, but happens all the time out in the villages. And these are kids of their culture. Kids. I swear Eskimo kids are born with their fists clutched in the "handlebar position". smile

The boy that got bit is going to have to go the rabies shot route.

Last edited by las; 02/14/20.

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Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: las] #14575375 02/15/20
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Originally Posted by las
I read some of the comments when this latter piece came out.


Well, as long as you are gonna bring it up we might as well tell the whole story and keep the archives complete and correct......


Ethan said that they got lost chasing a fox.

Lying on his hospital bed, 7-year-old Ethan Camille looks down at his hands, nine of his fingers wrapped in bandages.

“I only remember a little bit,” Ethan said. “The weather makes me forget a little bit things.”

Originally Posted by Jeff
"Sure Ethan" how convenient, the weather always makes us forget things...like the truth..


Sitting beside him is his mother, Irene Camille, who is also the grandmother of the three other boys who were lost. Her memory of that day is clear, the day her son and grandsons left home and didn’t return.

“That day was supposed to be a good day,” Irene said. “It was my birthday.”

But both Irene and Ethan said that the weather looked ugly that day.

“Bad. Storm,” Ethan said, describing the conditions. He turned to his mother and asked, “How come you let us go outside?”

Originally Posted by Jeff
Foul ball you little schit! You think it's gonna be easier to tell this part if you make it all moms fault first? If I was your mom I'd be reminding you of this comment every time you asked to go outside if the sun wasn't shine'in and the birds weren't singing


Irene sighed. She’s been asked that question a lot since that day. Part of the reason she let them out, she says, was that the boys had been staring at their phones all morning.

“We don’t like them to be on their phones too much,” Irene said. “We like them to exercise, and play in the snow, and have fun outside.”

And so she took away their phones and sent them outdoors, checking outside her window every now and then to make sure that she could see them.

“Then we just, they just disappeared,” Irene said.

Ethan says that he and the other boys had been riding their snowmachine around town for four or five hours. Just as they were about to head back inside, something appeared and lured them away from home.

Originally Posted by Jeff
Uh huh, like away from home where mom said you couldn't go? I thought you were suppose to be between the house and the dump where mom could see you guys when she looked out the window?


“We found a real fox and we tried catch it, but it run away,” Ethan said.

Ethan and the boys chased the fox until they caught up to it and hit it with their snowmachine.

“We rammed it,” Ethan said.

Thinking it was dead, Ethan jumped off to pick it up. But the fox wasn’t dead.

“That’s why it bit me,” Ethan said.

The fox bit his hand twice. When it ran away, the boys continued to give chase, driving miles and miles farther from town.

“So that’s how we got lost,” Ethan said. “Cause we were trying to catch a fox to show my mom and my dad.”


Originally Posted by Jeff
Sure Ethan, this was all for mom and dad. You guys weren't having any fun at all


The fox disappeared into the storm’s empty whiteness, which had worsened since they left home. That’s when the snowmachine got stuck, Ethan said.

One of the boys, 14-year-old Chris Johnson, worked so hard to free the machine and pull the younger boys out of the deep snow that he suffered a hernia. They soon ran out of gas and had no phone or compass.

Still, the boys were determined to get home. They abandoned their vehicle and started trudging toward what they believed was Nunam Iqua.

Asked how they knew which way to go, Ethan replied, “We didn’t know.”

At one point, Ethan stopped to go to the bathroom. As he took off his gloves, the wind snatched them out of his hand.

“And I said, 'Chris, help me,'” Ethan said.

But neither boy could find the gloves. They were starting to lose their vision in the whiteness of the blizzard.

“We almost got blinded,” Ethan said. “We almost got white eyes.”

After 4 miles of walking, and no town in sight, Chris decided they should hunker down.

“We tried to dig a hole, but it was too hard,” Ethan said.

Inside the shallow hole, Ethan says, he was originally on top of 2-year-old Trey Camille, and below the older boys. But afraid Trey would suffocate, Ethan joined the outer ring of the huddle, gloveless, so the baby could breathe.

“And I got tired, so I went to sleep. I waked up here,” Ethan said, referring to his hospital room. “That’s all I can remember.”

Irene said that 8-year-old Frank Johnson was the only one who remained conscious through the night. She said Frank kept prodding the other boys, knowing that if they closed their eyes, they may not open them again.

“At the last couple of hours, I think I almost lost hope,” Irene said. “People’s voices were getting further and further. And I was about same, lost as them.”

Miraculously, Herschel Sundown and searchers from Scammon Bay found the boys the next day, Feb. 3, around 4:25 p.m. In a few hours, the boys would have faced their second night outside.

“It was like they were ready to go if we took a little longer, if we didn’t find them any sooner,” Sundown said.

Back in the hospital room, despite having nine of his fingers bandaged, Ethan insists on trying to open a Coke bottle by himself.

Irene says Ethan and the other boys will make a full recovery. And when they do, she says, they can go right back out into the storm.

“I’ll never, ever feel regret that they were outside in the storm. I’ll always let them play out in the storm,” Irene said. “That’s where they were born, that’s where they come from, that’s where they’re gonna be. There’s always gonna be a storm.”

Irene says that if you don’t understand, that’s because Nunam Iqua is not your home.

Re: 4 Alaska kids found alive after vanishing during blizzard [Re: JeffA] #14576320 02/15/20
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Ever see a kid that didn't try to deflect blame? It isn't an uncommon thing among "adults" of various cultures as well. Some more than others.

Your points are well taken, tho. You can tell them, but not much, sometimes.

I used to do all kinds of chit as a kid during ND blizzards. And my folks didn't know about it( I think) ..... as far as they knew, I was playing with my friends across town (400 people), not miles away in the timbered river-bottoms. We did have sense enough to stay off the plains. No transportation but our feet, tho. smile

I can't remember a time as a kid that we were not aware of wind direction, and a few times used it to navigate by. Chancy, but if it's all you have....

It proved a valuable aid several times in my Arctic stays as well. I hate ground blizzards!

Last edited by las; 02/15/20.

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