Missing Oregon Boy Safe After 18-Hour Ordeal

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August 6, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

The 5-year-old boy who vanished from his fellow campers Wednesday (Aug. 4) at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park in Oregon was found safe Thursday morning.

Forty-five search and rescuers from Linn and Lincoln counties and the Oregon State Police had been combing the thick undergrowth of Sitka spruce trees lining the steep ridges of the park and alongside the highway, calling out to Isaak Glenn, hoping for any sign of him, the Register-Guard, Eugene, reported.

But it was a couple of amateurs from Cottage Grove, who had read about a boy they didn’t know in Thursday morning’s Register- Guard, who ultimately plucked little Isaak out of the woods and returned him to his grateful mother.

Isaak disappeared about 5 p.m. Wednesday. He’d been playing with some friends as the adults in charge of the camping trip unpacked their gear. Only a half-hour after arriving at Washburne, Isaak was gone.

After an hour or so of looking, the family friends Isaak was camping with called the boy’s parents in Veneta, and they called 911. Rebekah Glenn, Isaak’s mother, had just finished her shift at Crazy Al’s Bar and Grill in Veneta when her husband, Kris Glenn, walked in with terrifying news, said Debbie Russel, the bar’s manager.

“He came in and said ‘Isaak’s missing,’ ” Russel said. “We didn’t know what to think, because they just flew out of there.”

The couple raced to the coast to join the search, while their friends in Veneta stayed behind, praying for the best. Isaak is a sweet, happy-go-lucky child, said Maureen Wilson, assistant manager of the Fern Ridge Shores RV Park, where the boy has lived with his family since he was born.

When the news broke that the boy was missing, the community rallied.

“If they don’t find him,” Russel said around lunchtime, “We’re closing up, and we’re all going over to search. I’m praying and hoping he’s just fallen or something. I can’t imagine him wandering off by himself with all those kids around.”

Back at Washburne, crews fueled by doughnuts, granola bars and coffee worked grids outlined by Lane County’s Search and Rescue, sweeping the woods with flashlights, calling out Isaak’s name. But the boy spent the night alone in the dark.

Then on Thursday morning, Pete Barrell picked up the newspaper and read that a child was missing on the Oregon Coast.

He and his 14-year-old son, Mason, had once lived in Florence and knew the terrain well, Barrell said. So he decided to play hooky from his job as community services director for Cottage Grove and join the search. He and Mason loaded two yellow kayaks into the bed of his pickup truck, just in case they might come in handy.

On the way out, Barrell and his son talked about what might have happened to Isaak. Had he been kidnapped, or was he just lost? They both remembered the time Mason had gotten lost for a few hours at Odell Lake; how scared he had been, and how happy he was to be found.

At the campground, Barrell spotted an old friend, Oregon State Police Senior Trooper Scott Salisbury, and asked how he might help. Salisbury suggested that the father and son work the north end of Washburne, up by Big Creek, about a half-mile north of the campground.

So the two drove up Big Creek road, calling out Isaak’s name, until they reached a gate, at which point they decided to hike down along the water’s edge. They called, and walked, and called some more.

Then, a response.

“He called out, ‘Here,’ or something. I don’t remember exactly what he said,” Pete Barrell said.

They spotted Isaak with his unmistakable red hair along a steep, wooded embankment on the other side of the creek.

“He wanted to know ‘Who are you? How do you know me?’ ” Pete Barrell said. “We told him we were friends, and we were looking for him.”

Isaak was on the south side of the creek, up the hill a ways, in thick brush, six-tenths of a mile from where he’d last been seen. He had to have hiked about 200 feet up a ridge and was headed back down when it got too steep to keep going.

“It’s pretty amazing he got that far,” said Chris Havel, a spokesman for the state Parks and Recreation Department. “This is thick terrain.”

Isaak was barefoot, scratched up and shaken, Pete Barrell said. He told his rescuers he’d been in the woods all night.

“He said he didn’t get bitten by anything,” Barrell said.

The Cottage Grove man wrapped the boy in a towel, gave him a sandwich and a piggy-back ride down the hillside.

“It felt great, the moment we heard his voice,” said Mason Barrell, soaked to his navel from wading across Big Creek. “I helped save a kid.”

Medics gave the boy a once-over after his return to the campground on Thursday. After that, he remained attached to his relieved mother’s hip.

“My arms have ached and ached,” Rebekah Glenn said, as her weary son peered out from underneath a baseball cap. “I’m not going to let him go.”

And after an 18-hour ordeal, a happy ending.

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