Authorities in Utah rescued a man this week who'd spent three weeks wandering alone in the desert, surviving on roots and a few frogs, while he waited to be found. William LeFever's story has grabbed national attention in no small part because he is an adult with autism. It's one of those stories that could easily have gone the other way.
LeFever apparently ended up in the desert by choice -- at least initially. An outdoorsy type of guy, the 28-year-old called his dad in June to say his hiking gear had been stolen. But this is where the story gets ... odd.
Authorities say LeFever's father told his son he'd wire money to Page, Arizona. According to my calculations (OK, Google Maps' calculations), that's some 220 miles from Boulder, Utah, where LeFever was. His dad's suggestion? "Catch a ride."
OK, let's stop right there for a second. I understand this man is 28 years old. But isn't hitchhiking dangerous? Not to mention illegal in many places? Your own child tells you their gear has been stolen, and they need help, and your best suggestion is to tell them they have to go 200-some miles to get it ... without a safe means to get there?
Gee, what a "nice" parent, huh? Oh, but it gets worse.
So LeFever apparently ignored dear old Dad's advice and tried to hike the trip. That's when disaster struck -- his dog ran off, he ran out of food, and he seems to have gotten hopelessly lost in the Utah desert. When authorities found him, he was emaciated and in desperate need of medical care.
But get this: he'd been in the desert for three weeks, and it wasn't until THIS WEEK that someone in his family -- a sister -- decided to report him missing. After three weeks without hearing from your kid, who you KNOW was short on cash? And who has autism?
LeFever is somewhere on the autism spectrum -- although we don't know exactly where. I think it's necessary to point out that there are a lot of myths about autism that are pushing people to jump to conclusions over the horror of this story here (as if being lost in the desert for three weeks isn't horror enough). But having autism doesn't make you either dumb or incapable of taking care of yourself. However, it does mean the person has special needs to consider ... and their parent, of all people, should be aware of that!
William LeFever may be a grown man responsible for his own horrific ordeal in the desert. But it doesn't sound like this poor guy has it terribly easy anywhere!
What would you do if your adult child called and needed cash -- autism or no autism?
Image via Guilherme Jofili/Flickr