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Lost 6-Year-Old Hikes 18 Miles To Safety

April 30, 1986 GMT

WALLOWA, Ore. (AP) _ A 6-year-old boy walked overnight at least 18 miles to safety through the wilderness of northeastern Oregon while searchers on horseback combed the rugged terrain after he got lost on a picnic.

Cody Sheehy found a road and walked for more than 15 hours until he came to a house, his mother, Marcie Sheehy said Tuesday.

Cody told his mother he climbed into a tree once during the night, afraid that he was being followed by coyotes.

He vanished from the picnic Sunday afternoon and arrived on the doorstep of Wallowa resident Beverly Hansen about 7:30 a.m. Monday, his mother said.


Ms. Hansen gave the boy hot chocolate and cookies and called the sheriff’s dispatcher, who didn’t believe the boy could have walked that far, and had Ms. Hansen repeat the story three times, Mrs. Sheehy said.

A doctor has ordered Cody to stay off his swollen feet for a few days, giving the first-grader a break from Wallowa Elementary School, his mother said.

Sheriff’s deputies and family friends scoured the woods looking for the boy as Cody tramped through sporadic showers and temperatures as low as 34 degrees.

Mrs. Sheehy said Cody wandered off while playing a game with his 10-year- old sister Carrie.

After he realized he was lost, she said, Cody was determined to find his way back to this ranching community of 810 residents.

He still was wearing his hooded coat and gloves when he walked into town, Mrs. Sheehy said in a telephone interview.

″He seemed to keep his wits about him through all this,″ she said.

Mrs. Sheehy, 37, rode all night with her father-in-law searching for the boy.

″I was sort of losing faith by morning time,″ she said. ″I was weeping part of the time; coming on strong part of the time.″

Community support helped, Mrs. Sheehy said.

″We’re ranchers, and all the other ranchers were out looking for him,″ she said. ″We’re very close in this community.″

Mrs. Sheehy said Cody’s father, a rangelands specialist, is working in China and has yet to learn of the incident.