Parents rejoice, await details from rescued 11-year-old son
The Hawkinses say they will not push Brennan to speak about his experience.
BOUNTIFUL, Utah (AP) -- Jody Hawkins buckled and collapsed as she climbed into a sheriff's truck, convinced that authorities were about to tell her that her 11-year-old son had been found dead four days after getting lost in the Utah wilderness.
Instead came the shocker: Her boy was found alive. And not only that, but he was unscathed.
"I really didn't think he could survive that long in the wilderness," Hawkins said, her voice breaking at times. "When they told me Brennan was still alive and in good shape, my brain still cannot comprehend that."
Jody and Toby Hawkins described their ordeal Wednesday during two news conferences at the family's suburban Salt Lake City home, where Brennan Hawkins made his first public appearance. He answered only one question, saying he felt "good" -- before crouching on the ground by his mother's knees while his parents and four siblings carried on with the news conference.
"His personality hasn't changed one tiny bit," Jody Hawkins said earlier, adding that one of the first things Brennan asked about was whether the Pok & eacute;mon cards he bought on eBay last week had arrived.
"I tell you, that's what got him off that mountain," she said. "They were here."
As for Brennan's reaction when he saw his picture on TV: "Sweet."
The boy disappeared last Friday in the Uinta Mountains, about 100 miles east of Salt Lake City, somewhere along a dirt road at a Boy Scout camp. He was found on an ATV trail Tuesday by a volunteer looking for him outside the search area.
Brennan does not remember much of the four days he was missing, his parents said. They said they do not plan to push him to talk about his time in the woods, but they have learned a few answers.
He told his parents and a friend that he would sleep in a crouch, with his sweatshirt pulled down over knees to keep warm. And the parents said Brennan probably took their advice a little too literally about avoiding strangers.
"When an ATV or horse came by, he got off the trail. When they left, he got back on the trail," Jody Hawkins said. "His biggest fear, he told me, was that someone would steal him."
It is unclear if that delayed his rescue.
Brennan defied conventional wisdom during his time in the mountains: He went uphill instead of down, while "typically children walk downhill, along the least path of resistance," Sheriff Dave Edmunds said. As a result, search crews ended up in the wrong area.
Brennan's mother said he believes he was gone only one or two nights and doesn't remember even going camping or much else, because "most of it was a blur to him."
"It's going to take a while to get everything out," Toby Hawkins said. "This is how he approaches all situations."
The couple said their son was born prematurely, and they described him as immature, but not mentally disabled.
"Brennan continues to amaze us," Toby Hawkins said. "I thought that he was the most ill-prepared out of our five children to deal with it, and now I think he was maybe the best prepared."
Brennan had hiked more than five miles into the mountains to the spot where searcher Forrest Nunley found him Tuesday.
"I turned a corner and there was a kid standing in the middle of the trail. He was all muddy and wet," said Nunley, who dialed 911 on his cell phone and said he was lucky to find a signal.
"He was a little delirious. I sat him down and gave him a little food," Nunley said.