In 1992, an absolute miracle took place in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area in Colorado.
The area is one of the wildest parts of the Rocky Mountains with endless forests of pine and mountains seemingly reaching for the skies. It’s also an area where the weather can turn on a dime. You never know when you are going to get caught in a storm, turning a fun day in the forest into an epic quest for survival. That is exactly what happened to Derek Patton and his young son Ryan.
It was bright and sunny out when they ventured into the forest for a day of hunting. Everything was going well until by chance one of them took a wrong turn and the two got separated from each other.
Derek searched for his son for hours, but Ryan was nowhere to be found.
Eventually, he decided to leave the forest and go ask the rangers for help.
The sheriff’s department called in a search and rescue team, and soon, Derek and rescuers returned to the area with a search dog and began looking for the young boy.
Their big worry was the changing temperature.
Ryan had been dressed for summer, but as it got later in the day and temperatures dropped, he was at extreme risk of hypothermia.
There is also a lot of wildlife in the area.
As night fell, their worst fears were realized. Snow started falling. Their only hope was that Ryan found a good place to shelter down until the search could be resumed the next day.
Luckily, when morning came and they started looking again, they were quickly able to locate the boy. The state he was in, however, was not good.
They found him frozen and very hypothermic, but thankfully, still alive.
Rescuers couldn’t believe he had survived the night. Then the boy told his incredible story. It turns out, the only reason he was still alive was because of two wild elk.
Two elk actually saved the boy from dying of hypothermia.
In the middle of the night, when he was huddled on the ground in the snow, the elk approached him and laid down right next to him. Their body heat kept him warm enough to survive through the cold until morning.
At first, no one could believe it. However, rescuers confirmed the story through the elk tracks nearby and the large melted patches of snow located next to him on the frozen ground where he was discovered.
It is a story that defies all odds and reminds us just how close we are to our animal friends.
When it comes down to it, there really isn’t that much separating us from the wild things. Hearing stories like these from time to time definitely serves to remind us of that.
If it wasn’t for two thoughtful elk helping him to stay warm through the night, the boy never would have survived.
The elk didn’t care that Ryan was from a different species. All they saw was another living being in need of help.
Ryan Patton and his father Derek will be forever grateful for what happened on that day, even though they still often can’t believe it themselves.
Watch the full video of the miraculous story of the boy’s rescue below.
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