Missing Utah boy avoided strangers during search

Brennan Hawkins, right, receives a hug from his mother, Jody Hawkins, during a news conference Wednesday at the family's home in Bountiful, Utah. Brennan, 11, disappeared last Friday in the Uinta Mountains, about 100 miles east of Salt Lake City, somewhere along a dirt road at a Boy Scout camp.

? Jody Hawkins buckled and collapsed as she climbed into a sheriff’s truck, convinced that authorities were about to tell her that her 11-year-old son had been found dead four days after getting lost in the Utah wilderness.

Instead came the shocker: Her boy was found alive. And not only that, but he was unscathed.

“I really didn’t think he could survive that long in the wilderness,” Hawkins said, her voice breaking at times. “When they told me Brennan was still alive and in good shape, my brain still cannot comprehend that.”

The boy disappeared last Friday in the Uinta Mountains, about 100 miles east of Salt Lake City, somewhere along a dirt road at a Boy Scout camp. He was found on an ATV trail Tuesday by a volunteer looking for him outside the search area.

Brennan does not remember much of the four days he was missing, his parents said. They said they do not plan to push him to talk about his time in the woods, but they have learned a few answers.

He told his parents and a friend that he would sleep in a crouch, with his sweatshirt pulled down over knees to keep warm. And the parents said Brennan probably took their advice a little too literally about avoiding strangers.

“When an ATV or horse came by, he got off the trail. When they left, he got back on the trail,” Jody Hawkins said. “His biggest fear, he told me, was that someone would steal him.”

It is unclear whether that delayed his rescue.