Minor scrapes only harm to lost boy, grateful dad says

There's a little scratch on his cheek and another on his left arm but that's all the harm that was found on little George Hazard-Benoit's body when he was taken to hospital Sunday night after spending about 31 hours in the wilderness near his home town of Mackenzie.

It all started when George's mom Tykao Hazard and a friend went berry picking near Mackenzie's Lions Lake campground and left George to nap in the family van Saturday around 12:30 p.m.

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When George woke up alone, he left the van and wandered into the woods.

A huge search was launched and at about 7:30 Sunday evening, George was spotted from the air and the spotter then directed the RCMP officer who handles police dog Kash to George who was then immediately taken to the hospital.

The search involved hundreds of people including police, search and rescue personnel and an army of volunteers.

George's father Kris Benoit is very grateful to everyone for all their efforts.

Benoit stayed at home during the search. He said he was afraid that if he saw Hazard among the searchers he would have hurt her.

"But I was just so mad at Tykao for losing our child," Benoit said. "I do feel bad - I feel kind of guilty for not helping to search for George because I wonder if we could have found him sooner."

Benoit said he knows Hazard is still beating herself up over losing George.

"I told her when we got to the hospital that I was still mad - and I really was - I was glad that George was home but I was still really mad at Tykao," Benoit said. "And I wanted to be mad at her, but at the same time all I could do was give her a hug."

Beniot said Hazard told him she was so sorry and not to hate her for losing their son.

"I told her 'I don't care, George is home, George is alive, George is safe and he's with us,'" Benoit said.

He and Hazard have not been together since George was one and a half.

Benoit said that when he was told by police George had been found it was all he could do to stay in the house.

"I wanted to run to the hospital to see George," Benoit said, who lives close by.

The police came and got him and they couldn't come fast enough.

"I ran into the hospital room and just cried when I saw my little boy covered in all those blankets," he added. "We're such a close community in Mackenzie and it's been just so amazing. The amount of volunteers who came out to search for George - it was amazing."

Doctors told Benoit to keep George hydrated and try to get him to rest but he's a high energy child and he just wants to play.

When Benoit asked George about the experience of being lost in the woods the only thing George didn't seem to remember was the helicopter ride. Benoit said George is really smart and by the time he was three years old he knew the names of his favourite kind of dinosaurs.

Benoit said when George realized he was lost he knew just what do to.

"George said he bunkered down and ate blueberries," Benoit said. "And then when we were in the hospital and he's feeling a little bit better the little monkey asked for blueberries."

An Emergency Medical Services staff member had just finished picking blueberries and gave George a small container of them, Benoit said.

"So he just sat in his hospital bed and ate his blueberries," Benoit laughed. "The bounce back from this kid is just phenomenal. We're just so glad that he's home."

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