An 8-year-old boy survived by eating snow while he was missing in the Michigan wilderness for 48-hours.
Nante Niemi was camping with his family over the weekend at Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, when he ventured into the woods to gather wood for their campfire.
The Wisconsin second grader’s parents reported that he was missing to the Michigan State Police (MSP) on Saturday night, when he didn’t return with kindling after last being seen during the early afternoon.
To add to his parent’s nightmare, the area they set up camp in was both “remote and hilly,” without cell phone service, and some roads were “impassible because of snow depth.”
Over 150 search and rescuers set out to scour a 40 square mile area on foot with K9’s, on water, and by air, but the Nante was not found on Saturday or Sunday.
Concerningly, the child had only been dressed in a sweatshirt and sweatpants, and temperatures both nights dropped into the 40s.
Rescuers caught a break when search member Matthew Tingstad found tracks left by the boy on Sunday night, but were unable to locate him.
“I called up a couple of friends that I know that are pretty capable of getting around in the woods,” he told WLUC.
“We devised a plan first thing this morning and we executed the plan, and we found the subject.”
Tingstad and Eli Talsma were part of the group that eventually found Nante 49-hours after he went missing.
Talsma, who is a friend of the family, was the person who first spotted Nante.
“I get over this little, tiny hill, and all I see is this little, tiny, white sweatshirt, and he goes, ‘Eli?’ And I just ran up over to him and I gave him the biggest hug,” he detailed.
“I was so relieved once I saw him.”
The boy told him that he had been following the blue check marks on trees, and had seen helicopters searching, but didn’t get their attention.
The MSP said that Nante walked a trail until it dead ended, then decided it would be best to stop there and wait until help came.
He was able to keep warm at night by covering a log with branches and leaves, then sleeping under it.
The clever boy didn’t have any food or water on him, but ate clean snow to stay hydrated.
When Tinstad and Talsma found him, the offered to carry Nante on his back, but he wanted to walk.
Eventually he was too fatigued and Talsma carried him back to safety, where he was reunited with his family.