McGrady, N.C. (CBS/AP) - The 12-year-old Boy Scout missing for three nights in the damp, cool mountains of western North Carolina has been found alive, one of the searchers radioed in to the search commanders.
"There are a lot of smiling people standing around me here at the command post, and a lot of rescuers and folks who are very pleased to hear this news," National Park Service spokeswoman Tina White told CBS News. "We were focusing more heavily on the 35 different segments of the area where we thought he had the highest probability of being and maybe that's what paid off."
The boy was found about 1.5 miles from camp, and was able to walk on his own, the searchers said.
Michael vanished after lunch with his fellow Scouts and troop leaders on Saturday. His father said the adults and the other boys on the trip told him Michael had slept late but nothing appeared to have been wrong.
"Nothing was going on. He was in good spirits," Auberry said. "He ate lunch, chatting with the boys. He was walking around with I think some Pringles and a mess kit. The next moment, sounds like a blink of the eye, he was gone."
"We've got great professionals looking for him. We're just waiting for the news," his father said earlier Tuesday.
Dog teams and a plane with heat-sensing equipment had searched overnight the rugged area around the camp site where Michael Auberry was last seen but had no new clues or leads, said Tina White, the spokeswoman for the National Park Service.
But the searchers remained optimistic, and found Michael later in the day.
About 70 people aided by dogs and a helicopter have searched the area's logging roads and trails and scoured the off-road regions.
The FBI was among the agencies on the scene, and a missing persons alert notifying area law enforcement had been issued as a precaution in case the boy had left the search area, White said.
Authorities had said the boy probably wandered into the woods to explore.
"We're hopeful he was able to find shelter. There are a number of rock crevasses, and he could have covered himself up with leaves," said Mike Lambert, a ranger with North Carolina State Parks.
One of Michael's favorite books a few years ago was about a boy whose plane crashes in the wilderness, and how that boy survives on his own, his father said.
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