OFFICIAL NEWS RELEASE FROM THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Two children missing for several hours in the snowy woods north of Spokane were found by the sheriff's Air One helicopter crew and rescued shortly after 11 p.m. Sunday.
Crewmember Chad Ruff jumped from the helicopter during a "one-skid" landing and wrapped the seven and nine-year-old boys in his flight suit. He held them on his lap for warmth until ground rescue teams on ATV's could retrieve them. Both boys suffered from near hypothermia, but quickly recovered after their rescue.
The incident began when the boys disappeared into the woods around 4 p.m. while visiting a residence in the 12500 block of North Vistawood Court. The parents reported the pair missing about 5:24 p.m.
Sheriff's deputies immediately responded and set up a command post. Spokane City/County Search and Rescue was paged out, as was the sheriff's helicopter.
Air One launched with volunteer pilot Dave Valenti and crewmembers Brandon Armstrong and Chad Ruff, both deputy sheriffs. Ruff said the team began searching the area, switching from FLIR to night-vision goggles to the aircraft's high-intensity search light.
The team also made announcements over the helicopter's loudspeaker trying to direct the boys into an open area where they could be seen. The initial search proved unsuccessful and the helicopter had to return to Felts Field to refuel.
Launched a second time, the crew began re-searching the area already checked. About 10:40 p.m., Ruff spotted the two boys using the aircraft's searchlight. Jordan, the nine-year-old, was on the ground in a fetal position and not moving. Seven-year-old Carson was kneeling over him, but not moving as well.
The crew discussed a potential landing and decided it could be done. Valenti made a quick touch-down and Ruff jumped from the helicopter. The crew provided GPS coordinates to the ground searchers while Ruff tried to maintain the boys' heat until the ATV crews arrived.
Ruff said the boys told him they were able to see house lights on a hillside, but the Little Spokane River was between them and the lights. After finding no bridge over the river, Jordan tried unsuccessfully to wade across.
Both boys appeared to be suffering from early-stage hypothermia when found, but recovered quickly when seated inside a heated vehicle.
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