Joseph "Jo Jo" McCray, a 6-year-old Vermont boy who got lost in the freezing woods for more than 20 hours and was found safe Sunday morning, impressed state police with his courage.
"That's a brave young man out there," Lt. Reg Trayah of the Vermont State Police told The Huffington Post. "It would be hard for some adults to be out there in the deep woods as cold as it was and be able to survive."
Police said they believe Jo Jo, who's from Arlington, Vt., found a downed pine tree and hunkered down for the night, but that has yet to be confirmed, Trayah said. The spokesman added that the boy did exactly what a person lost in the woods should do: find a spot to stay until daylight to make it easier for a search party to find you.
Jo Jo's ordeal began Saturday afternoon on a deer hunting trip with his father and another family in Sunderland, Vt.
Contrary to earlier media reports and a police bulletin, Jo Jo was not sent off alone to meet up with other members of the hunting party later. Police believe he was conducting a "deer drive" with two other young boys and their father to guide potential prey toward Jo Jo's father. Jo Jo was no more than 75 yards away when he got lost, police said. "It's big woods up there and sometimes people get turned around," Trayah said.
However, at this point, Trayah noted, investigators have not ruled out anything and planned to interview the boy "to get his perspective."
Jo Jo was unarmed and was not carrying a communication device when he separated from the hunt at about 1 p.m. At about 2:45 p.m., police got a call about a missing child, reports say.
State police, fire fighters, Fish and Game officials and 120 volunteers searched through the night, according to outlets. Jo Jo spotted a rescuer at around 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning, Trayah told HuffPost.
The boy, who police said was wearing camouflage coveralls, a red plaid jacket, and a maroon winter hat, was unhurt. But, according to police, he must have been one cool customer.
"I've been in big woods," Trayah said. "At dark it gets intimidating."