I was also camping at the shelter that night and I was stunned by the level of response by the authorities. At first I thought there was a fugitive among us. After the sun came up and the kid was long gone, we all wondered if the mother would be charged for the cost of the rescue, or if the mother was somehow politically connected and therefore able to get this level of response for someone missing for less than 24 hours. But we were just wondering and speculating based on pretty much no information, and the fact that the kid seemed to know what he was doing and seemed baffled and a little annoyed by the "rescue".
Thanks for clearing this up. For those of us that were there when it went down it was nothing more than a story from our hiking trip so it's nice to have some answers about our stupid questions about the rescue. It's amazing that so many people can be so fired up and nasty as they hide behind fake screen names babbling about something they know nothing about other than a short (and partially wrong) story in the paper.
I didn't realize media had picked up on this event. I was one of two people in the unified command post that night.
Please keep in mind that a search is a law enoforcement event. Fire/Rescue and Search groups only assist law enforcement as requested.
Although the event spanned sections of both Augusta and Nelson Counties, ultimately the United States Department of Ineterior calls the shots because the trail is running through a federal park. There were two Federal Police Officers (Park Rangers) there looking over our shoulders the entire night. The information they were acting upon was credible. In the end, there was a a failure to communicate between son and Mom...no harm done.
I'm sure the search was very expensive. If there were a violation of law and an avenue to bill, then of course we would. In this case, we can't. Every one there was either a volunteer or salary (exempt from overtime). The State Police helicopter is expensive. However, if they weren't helping us, they would be looking for pot farms. Either way the expense is the same.
Its sometimes discouraging to read comments such as the ones posted here by people who really don't know anything about what they are talking about. I realize everyone has the right to state their opinion. I would just ask two things of you; First, have some base knowledge about whatever it is you are commenting on, and second, state your real name. Two people lead that search, I was one of them, and I accept the responsibility and criticism.