Sheriff's deputies were able to find a non-verbal teen with a developmental disability who ran off and got lost in the woods for hours near Los Angeles.
Police say the 16-year-old went missing during a family hike with his mom and sister in Crescenta Valley Park outside L.A. on Sunday, per NBC Los Angeles. He apparently ran into the forest and quickly became lost.
After six hours of searching the forest grounds, Los Angeles Country Sheriff's Department officers heard an odd clacking sound. The missing boy's mother had mentioned that her son loved to play with rocks, leading the search and rescue members to follow the noise.
"Several hours into the search, a Montrose team member heard what sounded like the clinking of rocks together. Remembering that the missing person had an interest in playing with rocks, he investigated further," said a Facebook post by the LASD.
During a press conference about the case, Montrose Search and Rescue member Steve Goldsworthy said they located the teen "sitting under an oak tree," reported NBC News.
"Their efforts revealed the missing person."
When they finally reached the teen, they realized the situation was more sensitive than expected and had to spend some time gaining his trust before rescuing him and reuniting him with his family.
"He will go out of his way to kick a rock, pick up a rock, throw a rock," said Goldsworthy. "Those were, like, his favourite things, so I picked up the rock and threw it down the gully, and he looked at me, and he ended up giving me a fist bump."
Paramedics and his family met him once he was out of the woods.
"Our Department was thrilled this incident had a happy ending," the rescue team's Facebook post read.