Bull Lake, MT – A missing four-year-old boy survived two nights alone in a densely-forested region of northwest Montana known for having the largest concentration of grizzly bears in the Continental United States.
Ryker Webb disappeared from a home near mile marker 18 on Highway 56 on the east side of Bull Lake on June 3, just hours before a strong storm system moved across the mountainous region.
A concerned neighbor contacted the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) at approximately 4:53 p.m. to report that Ryker had last been seen out playing in the yard with a dog about two hours earlier, the LCSO said in a press release.
Law enforcement officers and citizens immediately scrambled to locate the red-haired, blue-eyed four-year-old, deploying drones, ATVs, and dog teams throughout the forest.
A boat unit scoured the lake, the LCSO said.
An air unit was dispatched to help with the search, but ultimately had to abandon the effort due to the dangerous storm.
The following morning, drones from Flathead County and the Spokane Police Department in Washington State were launched to look for Ryker.
Two Montana Air National Guard helicopters also responded to the area as additional teams continued their search on the ground.
“It was extremely difficult to get the additional air assets into the Bull Lake valley due to very poor weather conditions which consisted of rain, low visibility, and low ceiling. These resources continued to monitor weather for additional flight openings,” the LCSO said. “The dense vegetation in the area proved to be extremely difficult to search.”
The sheriff’s office issued a nationwide missing person report and also sent out a “Code Red” alert to all residents living in the area where Ryker was last seen, asking them to search their own properties for the missing little boy.
Temperatures in the area dropped as low as 42 degrees that night, according to Weather Underground.
Approximately 53 personnel were out looking for Ryker on day three of the search when they were notified that the little boy had been found on Pine Ridge Road off of South Fork Bull River Road in nearby Sanders County.
He’d traveled well over two miles from the location where he had last been seen, KIRO reported.
The LCSO said Ryker was “in good spirits and apparently healthy, although hungry, thirsty, and cold.”
He was transported to Cabinet Peaks Medical Center to be evaluated.
The LCSO praised “the large group of experienced outdoorsmen and families” who assisted with the search, as well as David Thompson Search and Rescue (SAR), Bull Lake Volunteer Fire Department and Bull Lake Volunteer Ambulance, Flathead County SAR, Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, Spokane PD, Bonner County Sheriff’s Office, North Valley SAR, Two Bear Air, Montana Air National Guard, Libby Volunteer Fire Department, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, and Fairchild and Malmstrom Air Force Bases.