Dad & Son See 'Help' Scratched into Dirt, Follow Quiet Voice & Find Missing Teen in Woods

Combined Shape

Have you ever known anyone who has raised a special-needs child? Such parents almost always prove special in their own right, heroic in their efforts to care for their sons and daughters.

They provide them with special schooling, and they seek out the best medical care.

They essentially reorder their entire lives to care for their offspring. But I imagine that one worry lingers in their minds: “What will happen to my babies when they’re on their own?”

It’s a frightening question to consider. And in the case of a 19-year-old woman from Hayden, Idaho, it proved almost prophetic.

According to KXLY, Kathryn Ogle lived in an ordinary area of this small town in the Gem State. She also appeared ordinary enough from a basic description.

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Standing 5’4” with blonde hair and green eyes, she sounded like any other girl you might pass on the street. But Kathryn faced a host of issues.

In addition to multiple medical problems, she suffered from cognitive impairment. That meant she experienced the world at a maturity level of about half of her actual age.

So when she disappeared on Nov. 1, the authorities quickly got involved. It turned out that Kathryn had left her home wearing only a sweatshirt and pants, and she hadn’t put on any shoes.

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office rapidly organized over 40 people trained in search-and-rescue operations. They also brought in K9 units.

“The Sheriff’s Office is respectfully asking that citizens please avoid the area, unless you are an official Search and Rescue (SAR) member or live in the immediate area,” the Office wrote on its official Facebook page. “KCSO appreciates all of your support, but citizens who are not members of (SAR) can often complicate organized search efforts that are already underway.”

Ironically, though, it was an untrained father and son who ended up locating Kathyrn — and possibly saving her life. KTVB reported that Ryle Gordon and his stepfather, Chris Trumbich, were out on one of their many hunting trips on Nov. 3.

By this point, 60 search-and-rescue crews from neighboring counties had joined in on the search for Kathryn. In fact, the authorities had set up a command center not far from the cabin where Ryle and Trumbich would stay during their trips.

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As the pair were making their way back to the cabin, they noticed something strange about the dirt of the trail where they walked. It looked as though someone had attempted to scrawl a message in its mud.

“You could see that somebody wrote ‘Help’ in the road with a stick and mud,” Gordon said. “Me and my dad kind of panicked.”

The two alerted the command post, and authorities responded by sending an ambulance. “The ambulance followed us up there,” Gordon said.

“They heard somebody saying something, so we all got really quiet, and then one of them yelled, ‘Hello.’ She said, ‘Help.’”

“She was right there by a small fire and leaning up against a tree.” A happy story that could have ended so much worse.

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
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