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Hope Waning for Survival of Boy and Pony Missing Since Sunday

October 25, 1989

CHEMULT, Ore. (AP) _ Searchers planned to use a helicopter equipped with a heat-sensing device as the search resumed today for a 9-year-old boy missing since Sunday with his pony in rugged range country.

The temperature dipped below freezing again this morning in the search area about 15 miles north of Chemult, in central Oregon. said Dexter Patmon, a spokesman for the Klamath County sheriff’s office. About 100 searchers on horseback and 100 on foot resumed the search at daybreak, he said.

Clouds and wet weather that had kept aircraft grounded most of Monday and Tuesday cleared up overnight, said Patmon. An Air National Guard helicopter with infrared sensing equipment on board would be used sometime today, he said.

Nathan Madsen was riding his pony, Tony, when he disappeared during a cattle roundup near his family’s ranch Sunday afternoon. Any tracks they may have left have been erased by snow, sleet and rain.

The boy’s chances are waning, but searchers continued to hold out hope that he would be found alive, Chuck Hoy of Klamath County’s search and rescue unit said Tuesday night.

″If he’s got himself into a little cave or a tree trunk or some form of shelter, it is possible to survive,″ Hoy said. ″Every night he’s out there, the likelihood is less, but it is very, very possible.″

Searchers have concentrated on a rugged box canyon on the Little Deschutes River northwest of Chemult, east of the Cascade Range in south-central Oregon.

The 13-square-mile canyon has been searched ″top to bottom, side to side, three times over,″ rescue chief Virgil Johnson said. ″I just don’t think he’s in there. To be honest with you, it doesn’t look good.″

The boy was dressed in chaps and a rain slicker for cold, wet weather and knew what to do, his mother, Sarah Madsen, said Tuesday.

″Thank God ... he has been trained on what to do out there in the woods. I have to trust in Nathan because I know he knows what to do,″ she said.

″He may have panicked when he first realized he was lost; but after that I’m sure his common sense took over. I’m sure he is OK. He may be cold and he may be wet, but I’m sure he’s OK.″

″According to his mother, the boy and the pony have been together for a long time,″ Hoy said of the 10-year-old sorrel. ″The pony is very social. The pony probably would not leave the boy.″

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