Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Local campers aided search for autistic man

The successful and dramatic conclusion to the story of a 25-year-old autistic man who wandered from a camp and was found a week later after being lost in the woods has a local connection.

A group of seventh and eighth grade campers from Peace Lutheran was at Luther Point Bible Camp with Pastor John Hanson when the Shoreview, Minn., man wandered away on Sunday, June 15, from Trade Lake Camp, a camp for the developmentally disabled.

At Luther Point, the campers were allowed to volunteer for the search on Monday, June 16, but only if their Pastor was present and allowed the search and every two campers were required to be accompanied by a counselor or adult.

According to Shelby Weiske, daughter of Mike and Lisa Weiske who was among the campers from Peace Lutheran, about 200 campers from Luther Point helped with the search. About 15 of the searchers were from Peace Lutheran.

Keith Kennedy was found Sunday evening, June 22. He was suffering from a failing transplanted kidney, dehydration, hypothermia and was covered with ticks and bug bites. According to doctors, he was lucky to survive. His temperature was about 84 degrees when he was found.

At the height of the search hundreds of volunteers, law enforcement officers, firefighters and medics participated. He was finally found in thick brush on swampy ground next to a creek bed by a St. Paul firefighter. He was about a mile away from the camp he had wandered away from a week before.

The story of his sojourn will never be known since Kennedy can speak only four words.