Missing boy found safe after disappearing for 2 days in state park

An 8-year-old boy missing for two days in a Michigan park has been found in good health. (Source: WBAY)
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 4:50 PM EDT
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SILVER CITY, Mich. (WBAY/Gray News) - Authorities say an 8-year-old Wisconsin boy has been found after he was missing for two days.

Nante Niemi, 8, was discovered near a log Monday in good health after he went missing in a remote northern Michigan state park.

“Probably the happiest kid in the world. The last 15 feet he had his arms open. He just wanted a hug,” rescuer Colin Gauthier said.

And he instantly got one. Nante also got a piggyback ride from his rescuers after being lost for two days in the woods.

The 8-year-old from Hurley, Wisconsin, lost his way on Saturday while trying to return to his family’s campsite in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

“The last thing he did about 30 minutes before we found him, he prayed. He prayed for someone searching and to hear his voice in their head,” Gauthier said. “And I was also praying. I was praying for someone to just show me where he was.”

Gauthier, 18, and Eli Talsma, 18, along with a few others, followed a trail of muddy footprints and eventually heard Nante’s calls for help.

“I took off sprinting, and I was yelling back and forth until we came up. He was running at me. I hugged him and picked him up,” Gauthier said.

The rescuers, with Nante in tow, had a mile trek back. Nante had a lot to say after 48 hours in the woods alone, with overnight temperatures in the 40s.

“He talked the whole way back. Never said his feet hurt or anything,” Gauthier said. “That kid is tougher than all of us put together.”

Tough is an understatement. He didn’t drink water because he knew he could get sick. Instead, he had a couple of handfuls of snow.

“He was hiding under a downed pine tree. He hid underneath it. When he was sleeping the night before, he used leaves and branches over him,” Gauthier said.

Nante also said he purposefully stomped his boots in mud and snow so rescuers could see his tracks.

“He said he sat in the same spot and waited as he knew people were looking for him. So, he sat in the same spot and waited for help,” Gauthier said.

Nante is now back home with his family, safe and sound.

“He is in good health and reunited with his family,” state police said in a statement.

More than 150 law enforcement members joined the search for Nante.

The Hurley School District in Wisconsin, where Nante is a student, said it was elated to hear about his discovery.

“Words cannot describe the emotions and joy the students and staff are experiencing at this moment!” the district shared online.