Man Survives Desert by Following Escalante River

Jul 16, 2012

People nationwide are still reacting with amazement at the remarkable story of survival that broke in a remote area of Southern Utah late Friday afternoon.

28-year-old William LaFever, from Colorado springs, contacted his father for money on June 6th or 7th –calling from boulder, Utah.

John LaFever wired money for his son to the closest location, Page, Arizona.

The younger LaFever, who is autistic intended to follow the Escalante river to Lake Powell, then solicit a boat ride to page, with no apparent appreciation for the peril that such a trek posed.

Danny Perkins is Garfield county sheriff, and he said “I don’t think he was able to grasp the danger he was putting himself in by trying to do this.  I don’t think he understood at all what he was facing.”

LaFever’s sister, in Colorado Springs had become concerned and contacted authorities in Utah.

Garfield county sheriff’s deputy ray Gardner had recently learned at a training that people with autism are often drawn to water.

Following the hunch, Gardner, aboard a UHP helicopter followed the Escalante River downstream from boulder.

Some 5 miles north of Lake Powell LaFever was spotted sitting down in the stream, emaciated and without the strength to continue any further.

“He did say he did catch a fish, he did eat a toad there along the river. He ate some roots, anything he thought could provide nourishment,” Gardner said.

It’s unbelievable that LaFever endured as long as he did. It’s equally doubtful he would have lasted much longer. Garfield County authorities called the rescue a “shot in the dark.”

LaFever is recovering at Dixie Regional Medical center in St. George.