Lost hiker found alive

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – An autistic hiker lost in the wilderness for four days has been found alive and reunited with his family, a spokesman for the search effort said yesterday afternoon.

Spokesman Chris Stadelman provided few details on Jacob Allen’s condition but said the 18-year-old was found by a team of nine searchers in the Monongahela National Forest.

“The family is all together,” he said. “As soon as they heard the report he was alive and doing fairly well, they gathered in a prayer circle.”

The Inter-Mountain newspaper reported that Allen was taken to Davis Memorial Hospital, but a spokeswoman for the hospital declined to comment.

“I think the whole state’s relieved,” said Lara Ramsburg, spokeswoman for Gov. Joe Manchin, who visited the Allen family Wednesday night. “We’re all relieved for him and his family.”

Allen wandered away from his parents Sunday afternoon. Hundreds of volunteers and trained professionals had been combing the woods, calling for him to come to them for candy bars, ice cream and other food.

Allen had no food or water with him, but Stadelman had said there were natural water sources in the search area, which consists of about 10 square miles of often steep and brush-covered terrain.

Overnight temperatures dropped to as low as 38 degrees on the nights Allen was missing. He was wearing hiking boots, a long-sleeved T-shirt, a wind jacket and wind pants.