On his Tuesday morning snowmobile ride along Maine's Sugarloaf Mountain, a man stumbled upon a teenager who had gone missing from a nearby ski resort and spent two nights huddling for warmth in a makeshift snow cave as rescuers scoured the area.
Nicholas Joy, a 17-year-old high school senior from Medford, Mass., got separated from his father on the slopes of the Sugarloaf Mountain Resort on Sunday afternoon. The two rode the ski lift together and then took separate routes down the mountain, planning to meet up at the bottom, Sugarloaf spokesman Ethan Austin told the Los Angeles Times.
The boy's father got to the bottom. Nicholas didn't. Robert Joy immediately reported his son missing and the ski resort launched a search team.
“The whole resort was very concerned,” Austin said, adding that after a few hours they had called in the Maine Warden Service to help.
After Monday’s fruitless search on skis and snowmobiles, most of the more than 90 rescuers Tuesday morning wore snowshoes and “were doing more of a fine-tooth comb approach,” Austin said.
It wasn’t one of the official rescuers, however, who ended up finding Nicholas.
Before heading out on his snowmobile Tuesday, Joseph Paul of Warwick, Mass., checked the news, saw Nicholas was still missing and decided to keep an eye out.
“I know this area real well,” Paul told WHDH-TV in Boston. “I figured I’d come down through here, kill two birds with one stone.”
Paul noticed footprints, followed them for a bit and soon found Nicholas meandering along the snowmobile trail. The boy told him he watches survival shows and knew to make a shelter with branches and drink water from a nearby stream.
“Very amazing,” Paul said of the boy's fortitude. “He’s in very good shape.”
Although he could walk on his own, emergency responders helped Nicholas into an ambulance Tuesday after the rescue.
“I’m OK,” Nicholas told the Boston news station, adding that he got lost on the mountain.
At a news briefing Tuesday, Sugarloaf general manager John Diller thanked the various groups who helped with the rescue – Navy SEALs, U.S. Marines and Border Patrol agents.
“This was unbelievable,” Diller said, adding that he was with the boy’s parents a few minutes after they heard that their son was OK.
“I cried with them,” Diller said. “I mean this kind of thing is almost like a miracle.”
Although this search effort stretched on longer than most, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife spokesman Doug Rafferty told The Times that it’s not uncommon for skiers to get lost on the slopes.
On Monday, for example, officials had another search going on simultaneously with the one for Nicholas.
“Obviously we were hoping for a good outcome and this time we got one,” Rafferty said. “He used his head and stayed calm and did what he had to do.”