BOUNTIFUL, Utah - The 11-year-old boy lost for four days in a mountain wilderness did just what he had been taught, his parents said Wednesday: He stayed on his trail and avoided strangers, even though they were searching for him.
Brennan Hawkins was found in good condition Tuesday by a volunteer on an ATV who was out looking on his own, miles outside of active search grids.
Brennan left Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City early Wednesday, said Bonnie Midget, a hospital spokeswoman.
One of the first things he asked about was whether the Pokemon cards he ordered had arrived yet, his parents said.
"He ordered them on eBay last week, and I tell you, that's what got him off that mountain," his mother, Jody, said. "They were here."
"Those things kind of give us an indication he's alright," his father, Toby Hawkins, told reporters Wednesday outside the family home in Bountiful. "He's doing remarkably well. Brennan continues to amaze us."
The boy hadn't been able yet to communicate much about the time he was lost.
The Hawkinses said Brennan didn't remember much and they don't plan push him to talk about his four days in the woods. "It's going to take a while to get everything out," Toby Hawkins said. "This is how he approaches all situations."
They described the boy as social immature, but not mentally disabled.
The parents said Brennan had seen people searching for him on horse and ATV, but avoided them because of what he had been taught.
"He stayed on the trail, he avoided strangers," Jody Hawkins said. "His biggest fear, he told me, was that someone would steal him."
They said they hadn't talked to Brennan and his four siblings about what they should do about strangers if they were lost. "This may have come to a faster conclusion had we discussed that," Toby Hawkins said.
Part of the delay in finding Brennan was caused because he defied conventional wisdom: He went up hill instead of down.
Sheriff Dave Edmunds had said Brennan would have been more likely to head down a river valley from a 530-acre Boy Scout camp in the Uinta mountains. "Typically children walk downhill, along the least path of resistance," he said.
That possibility raised particular fears because the East Fork of the Bear River, which is normally ankle-deep, was swollen by heavy mountain snow melt.
However, Brennan had hiked some 600 feet higher and more than five miles into the mountains to the spot where searcher Forrest Nunley found him before noon 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.
After downing bottles of water and eating all the granola bars carried by a group of volunteer searchers, the boy asked to play a video game on one rescuer's cell phone, the sheriff said.
The youngster from the Salt Lake City suburb of Bountiful was found on a 9,400-foot pass above Lily Lake, a summer-only campground in the Uinta range.
In Bountiful, an impromptu celebration was held Tuesday on the Hawkinses' front lawn. Neighbors and schoolchildren tied celebratory yellow ribbons to every part of the Hawkinses' yard, the family's boat, and trees surrounding the home. Others honked car horns or held up signs heralding Brennan's safe return.
"This is a miracle. This is how it should happen," neighbor Kristie Swain said. She and her husband, Mark, spent Sunday and Monday helping search for Brennan.
The boy carried no food or water when he vanished Friday, and his family had said he did not have a good sense of direction. But the nights were mild, with temperatures falling only into the 50s.