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Teen Assumed a Runaway By Sheriffs Found After Lost 6 Days in Forest

January 1, 1989

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ A missing teen whom sheriffs stopped looking for because they considered him a runaway was found hungry and disoriented in a national forest where he had been lost and wandering for six days.

Andrew Campbell, 15, was found with frost-bitten hands and toes in an oak grove of Cleveland National Forest by a father and son out for a drive. Campbell’s parents were in another part of the forest, still searching for their son who had gotten lost returning from a fishing trip Dec. 24.

″How can you give up when it’s your own son? You just can’t,″ said Leonard Campbell, the boy’s stepfather, who expressed anger at authorities for giving up on the boy.

Campbell was listed in fair condition Sunday at Sharp Memorial Hospital, where he was taken Friday by ambulance following his rescue.

″He looks pretty sunken, like he needs to have some food,″ Pauline Renner, a hospital spokeswoman, had said Saturday. ″But aside from that, he’s pretty alert and with it.″

Renner said the boy had frostbitten feet and toes. Nighttime temperatures dipped into the 20s for several days while the boy was missing, according to weather forecasters.

A staff nurse who refused to give her name said Campbell was transferred out of the hospital’s intensive care unit Saturday morning and into a general- care ward. The nurse said the family requested no other information be released.

Authorities abandoned the search for Campbell on Tuesday after dogs trailing his scent lost it near a roadside. Despite his parents’ protests, sheriff’s officials said they believed Campbell, who once ran away from home, hitched a ride out of the forest and was safe.

The boy initially was listed as a runaway when his mother, Debbie Campbell, reported to the Sheriff’s Department that he was missing. The department changed his status when his parents complained about the runaway designation.

At the hospital Friday, Leonard Campbell said he was upset over the sheriff’s department’s decision to end the search.

″They have their political situation over there and they have things they have to do,″ he said.

A statement issued Saturday by the Sheriff’s Department said officials will review how the search was handled for Campbell. Volunteer search and rescue units used horses and dogs to look for the teen-ager, until the hunt was called off. The department ″will continue to retrace his tracks to determine how he became lost,″ the statement said.

Campbell was rescued by Bill Orsborn, 60, a retired firefighter from La Mesa, and his son, Mark, 29.

″He was just off under some oak trees wandering around,″ Bill Orsborn said Friday night. ″He was disoriented. He didn’t know where he was, how long he was out there or what day it was.″

The boy told the Orsborns he survived by eating snow and fish he caught but said little else about the ordeal.

Campbell was reunited with his mother and stepfather soon after he was found. As the Orsborns drove him out of the forest, young Campbell recognized the family car in a parking area. The parents were nearby searching for the boy.

Campbell said the boy survived because he was resourceful and had warm clothing.

″What saved him was his field jacket because it had a hood on it and he was able to pull it up around his head to keep himself warm,″ he said.

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