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Missing teens found safe in Butte Meadows

By Jerry Olenyn, jolenyn@krcrtv.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 09:23:32 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 11 2014 10:35:40 PM CDT

Two 13-year-old Chico teens missing since Thursday night were found after missing for 17 hours during a camping trip in Butte Meadows.

Kyle Saunders and Emiliano Ramirez -- both 13 and students at Bidwell Junior High -- had been missing since 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Search crews spent night and day looking for them. Before being found the two boys had last been seen floating on inner tubes down a creek in the Cherry Hill Campground. According to a camper the boys ventured further than their parents had allowed them and became lost.

"We found a dirt road and we kept following that," said 13-year-old Kyle. "We were almost a mile away from Highway 32."

Unsure where to go, the boys kept walking. Searches estimate that they walked eight to 10 miles in sometimes rough wilderness. Luckily they had water shoes on. When it became late, they found an area without many twigs and used their inner tubes to sleep on.

The boys said scariest part of the ordeal was late at night when bobcats came within about 10 yards of them. Other than that the scariest part was the uncertainty of not knowing what would be their fate. They also realized that their parents would be very frightened.

At approximately 10:00 a.m. Friday, nearly 17 hours after the boys went missing, Doug Carpenter, cabin owner, and two of Kyle's relatives found the them approximately four miles from their campground.

"My wife said she heard voices of a couple of boys above our cabin and paid no attention because they disappeared," recalled Carpenter. "And then I drove the road [figuring] if they got seriously turned around they might have headed toward Highway 32."

"And that's where we found them," he said.

Emiliano's parents were about to drive to Butte Meadows to help in the search, but got the good news that their son was found. As for the camping trip, the family cut it short and planned to return to Chico before nightfall.