Survival Training Pays Off For Teens In The Woods of Maine

Growing up I was in the Boy Scouts but if I had had to deal with a night in the woods in subzero temperatures as a teenager I probably would have frozen to death. That being said, it makes Tyler Howard-Gotto and Jonah May’s recent experience all the more impressive.

Howard-Gotto and may were snowmobiling in the Maine wilderness, near where Howard-Gotto grew up, however the boys were currently in the area for the funeral of Tyler’s father who recently died after being struck by an automobile. The boys, both fifteen, were about fifteen miles from where they left when they realized that somewhere Howard-Gotto who was driving the snowmobile had taken a wrong turn. The snowmobile eventually got stuck in deep snow but, to their credit, the boys didn’t panic.

Tyler told the Portland Press Herald “You gotta keep calm in a survival situation. That’s the whole thing.”

Both of the boys were trapped in the wilderness, Neither of them had cellular reception and the day was waning. The boys found a storage shed, and breaking the lock and doors, started a fire with an old sign and some gasoline found inside the shed. The boys parents by that time had notified authorities that the boys hadn’t returned and a search was on for the two. The boys could actually hear rescue teams overhead and were hoping the fire would attract them but unfortunately the teams did not find the boys that night.

When the boys realized that their rescue that night was not a reality they hunkered down in golf cart in the shed. That night in the Maine Wilderness temperatures got down to -12 degrees with the wind chill plummeting well below that frigid mark. Despite the bitter cold, the boys level thinking and survival skills paid off. The teens awoke the next day and trekked back toward civilization in the snow.

After making it four miles the boys managed to flag down a motorist and soon had cellular service and were able to phone Howard-Gotto’s Grandfather, Phil Howard.  The boys returned tired but without hypothermia.

Search and rescue effort say the boys did many things right. First off they had informed people where they were going, so when they did not arrive they’re families were able to notify the authorities. They also had the presence of mind not to panic and stay near the trail and find heat and shelter.

After the ordeal Tyler’s mother said she “was relieved as heck” and that not only for the boys but for her it had been a long night.