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Missing Teen Hiker In Washington County Found, Reunited With Family

DAMMERON VALLEY, Utah – A 15-year-old boy who went missing while hiking in Washington County has been found and safely returned to his parents.

After 24 hours of flying over rugged terrain, Saturday afternoon’s landing went straight to the heart.

“Honestly, tears were shed when I heard,” said Angie Denison who assisted in the search for Britton Kelsey.

Kelsey got lost Friday while hiking with his family on the Red Mountain Trail in St. George.

“It was reported that Kelsey had fallen behind the first group and was believed to have met up with the second group,” officials said. “Family and other members notified the sheriff’s office when their search efforts were unsuccessful.”

He faced below freezing temperatures overnight, prompting a massive search effort.

The Utah Department of Public Safety’s helicopter and a LifeFlight helicopter from Intermountain Healthcare responded and the area was searched using night vision and infrared cameras, but search efforts were suspended at midnight.

Search efforts continued the next morning.

“It was starting to get cold when we were coming down,” said Denison. “It was 4:30 in the shadows. It was getting cold and my heart was just aching for that mom, just thinking about what she was going to have to go through again for another night.”

Search crews had been praying for a good outcome, knowing the odds were against them.

“They had horses, they had ATV’s, they had the helicopters up, they had the motorcycles out on the hill,” said Denison. “People were looking for this boy.”

Angie Denison was one of several volunteers who heard the news, was moved to action and showed up in support of Britton’s family.

“I don’t know them, I’ve never met them,” she said. “I talked to them briefly at the base of the mountain, but my heart goes out to them because I know what it would feel like. I can only imagine what it would feel like.”

But just as the sun was setting, volunteers got the news the search was over.

“Everyone was hugging and they were so happy to just know that the boy had been heard, that they were in verbal contact with him,” Denison recalled.

The boy was found alive after Search and Rescue crews spotted his shoe prints and tracked them into a canyon.

“They had seen him about a mile away from where we were,” said Denison.

A Utah Department of Safety helicopter was called in to retrieve Kelsey with the assistance of a Search & Rescue team.

Cheers and emotions ran high as the helicopter landed.

“To see that mom go and embrace that boy, uh, there really wasn’t anything better,” said the volunteer.

Denison said the credit goes to the search and rescue teams and first responders who show up every time someone needs help.

Officials said Kelsey was treated by medical personnel for symptoms of hypothermia.

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