NEWPORT — Three boys lost for nearly five hours in the Croatan National Forest on Monday were safely returned to their families about 4:45 p.m.
The boys, ages 10, 13 and 14, went into the forest about 11 a.m. around the Little Doo Mud Bog near the intersection of Tom Mann Road and Masontown Town Road. They became lost several hours later, said Capt. Jason Wank of the County Sheriff’s Department.
The 14-year-old called 911 from his cell phone at 1:44 p.m. and reported where they entered the woods. They stayed on the phone and around 4:15 p.m. told 911 communicators they had taken refuge in a deer stand in a small clearing.
Within a few minutes, the boys said they could see a search helicopter flown by Timmy Brothers of Crystal Coast Helicopters, who was called in to assist until the U.S. Marine Corps’ search and rescue helicopter Pedro arrived at the scene.
Pedro got the boys out of the tree and the helicopter landed in a field at the end of Old Dragstrip Road off Nine Foot Road where they were evaluated by Newport Fire and Rescue workers. The youths were released to their families.
“The boys had played in the woods Sunday and were right back out there again this morning,” said Allison Pavlick, the mother of the two youngest boys. The children were out of school for President’s Day.
The boys were dressed in light coats, pants and tennis shoes, deputies learned from family members.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Lara Pagano said the temperatures by mid-day Monday were around 50 degrees with winds at 3-7 mph.
“With the high pressure system, any wind made it chilly,” she said.
Cooper, a K-9 dog from the Virginia Search and Rescue Dog Association, who is now kept in Craven County, was used in the search. Capt. Wank also thanked citizens who aided by searching on foot or all-terrain vehicles. Additional agencies assisting included the N.C. Forest Service, Newport Fire and Rescue, County Emergency Management and the County Fire Marshal’s Office.