Helena, Montana

Specialist: Infant’s survival in woods near Lolo is an extraordinary case

MISSOULA – One survival professional tells us that it is remarkable that a baby who was left alone in the woods near Lolo Hot Springs over the weekend made it through the night.

Court documents indicate that temperatures during the time the infant was out in the woods ranged from a high of 91 to a low of 51.

The child faced severe dehydration, hunger and predators. But perhaps the biggest threat to this infant was hypothermia. Hypothermia can start to affect adults even when overnight temperatures are in the low 60s.
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This baby was already wet, so the cold became more of a factor, which placed him in grave danger that night.

“The big thing here is once your core temperature goes down to a certain level, there’s no way of restoring it on your own,” said Sgt. Major Mike Jarnevic, a survival professional. “You have to have an external substance to warm you, be it a fire or hot water put into a hot water bottle, or something of that nature. Just wrapping up in a sleeping bag won’t work either. They need something to generate heat.”

Most infants need more warmth than the average adult human. It’s more critical for a baby in that particular situation. I’m actually very surprised the baby didn’t expire.”

He does not believe the sticks that were covering the child gave him much protection from the cold.

We reached out to Jarnevic for his perspective as a professional in wilderness survival. He served 42 years in the military, 36 of those in Army Special Forces. He teaches people how to survive in a variety of situations and currently teaches wilderness survival classes through the Montana chapter of the Sierra Club in Missoula.

Reporting by Jill Valley for MTN News

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