Teen found cold but OK in Kootenai County

HAYDEN, Idaho - Kootenai County Sheriff's deputies confirm they have found a 16-year-old boy, alive but cold, who ran away from from a home for struggling teens late Thursday night.

16-year-old Jacob Lee was found by searchers approximately two miles away from the Innercept Home on Dodd Road where he was last seen around 11 p.m. Thursday in what is being called a remarkable story of survival.

The teen ran away from Innercept Home in Hayden wearing nothing more than pajama bottoms and a flannel shirt and survived the night out in the cold in sub-freezing temperatures.

"It's really a Christmas miracle here," Kootenai County Sheriff's Department Major Ben Wolfinger said.

Deputies, along with 15 members of the Kootenai County Volunteer Search and Rescue team were involved in the search for him. They were supported from the air by the Spokane County Sheriff's Office helicopter Air One.

After 14 hours out in the elements the search teams found Lee two miles from Innercept but he reportedly had wandered around for six miles.

"He was cold, he was hungry, but other than that he was fine," Major Wolfinger said.

"The clothes were pretty tattered from going through the brush, he tired to evade the searchers and they saw him and called over to him and said come on over and he did and was totally compliant at that point. He was pretty cold, willing to give up."

Innercept is a therapeutic treatment center that provides care for adolescents dealing with emotional concerns. Ray and DiAnn Gardner live right across from the house and they say they have had ongoing issues with this facility for the last seven years.

"They will come to our gate and throw rocks at our dogs and scream obscenities, and I will tell them to move on their way and they keep screaming obscenities," DiAnn Gardner said.

The couple says they are extremely concerned living so close to this facility.

"We live out there for peace, quite and tranquility and we don't have that," DiAnn said.

No one from Innercept would agree to do an on-camera interview with KXLY for this story, but in the end both sheriff's department officials and the people at Innercept say they are relieved that Jacob Lee was found alive.

"He was outside all night in 15 degrees, certainly hypothermia could have set in, if he had laid down and gone to sleep out there in the snow somewhere I am sure we would have been doing a recovery not a rescue," Major Wolfinger said.