A 13-year-old Boy Scout used his quick wits and training to help rescue his father, who was struck by a falling boulder and badly injured in the Idaho backcountry.
Charlie Wilstead Finlayson, an eighth-grader in Eagle, Idaho, was backpacking with his father, David Finlayson, on Aug. 17, when a refrigerator-sized boulder fell and struck the 52-year-old, NBC station KTVB reported Thursday.
“The boulder fell on him and then he kind of tumbled down like 20 or 30 more feet," in the rugged terrain of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness area, Charlie told the station.
David Finlayson broke his left arm and leg in the accident. Charlie bandaged his dad’s wounds with a first aid kit, brought him warm clothes and a sleeping bag for the cold night, and cared for him as they made their way back to their camp site, a mile away — with Finlayson dragging himself along.
Unable to travel farther, Finlayson told his son he’d have to hike the 13 miles back alone to seek help. He sent the teen off with a note that had his location and read, "I cannot walk so I need a rescue, unfortunately. Please help Charlie find one for me," according to KTVB.
"I was saying a lot of prayers before I left," Charlie told the station.
Charlie found help just three miles away when he ran into two members from his Mormon church. They went back and took care of his Charlie’s dad, while the 13-year-old hiked on, eventually finding another man who helped call authorities, the station reported. The Lemhi County Sheriff's Office sent a helicopter to the rescue.
Finlayson, a criminal defense attorney who lives in Utah, has had two surgeries and will need more. He credits his son with saving his life. Finlayson spoke with KTVB in a phone call and said of his son, "He’s a tough kid."