Barring new leads in the search for a 3-year-old boy missing for six days in the mountains, authorities said Thursday they may call off rescuers and use only a team of trackers and dogs to look for the boy.
Jaryd Atadero was with a group of hikers Saturday when he disappeared in rugged Poudre Canyon about 80 miles northwest of
Denver. Rescue teams have found few signs of the boy.
"At this point our field commanders feel they have searched the entire area and covered every inch," said sheriff's Sgt. Justin Smith. "This realistically has turned into a recovery mission."
The effort was dramatically scaled back from Wednesday, when 69 searchers were retracing the trail that winds along a fork of the
Poudre River on a steep, rugged mountainside.
Six members of a search and rescue team were still in the mountains Thursday afternoon, rechecking a camp site near where
Jaryd was last seen while hiking with a church group. Tracking dogs caught a whiff of a mountain lion at the camp, and investigators
have considered the possibility the boy was attacked by a wild animal.
"There are no indicators to rule anything in or rule anything out," Smith said.
But Smith played down one scenario-abduction. Jaryd disappeared when he ran ahead of one bunch of hikers and failed to
catch up with a second group.
Snow fell intermittently Thursday, and nighttime temperatures have been near or below freezing since Jaryd's disappearance.
Smith said calling off searchers would not mean they have given up completely. Officials plan to send a dog team up a ridge above the trailhead Friday.
"No matter how hard they look, there's nothing," said the boy's father, Allyn Atadero, of Littleton. "It's not their fault he's lost. They made the best effort to find him."
He had let the boy go on the hike with members of a group called the Christian Singles Network. They were staying at a resort down the road.
Atadero questioned why the Denver-area group took his son to a hazardous area.
"The trail gets steep. It's narrow. It drops off in places.
There are million places every mile that Jaryd could be," he said.
The Associated Press