Boy, 5, found dead after mom left him on trail to seek help

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — The body of a 5-year-old boy was found on an Alaska trail days after he and his mother got lost, and then the mother left him to find help on her own, State Troopers said.

Searchers found Jaxson Brown Saturday afternoon on the Lunch Creek Trail, the Ketchikan Daily News reported.

“An autopsy will be conducted to determine the manner and cause of death. At this time, while it is very tragic, it doesn’t appear to be suspicious in nature,” troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said.

Troopers began the search Friday for the boy and his mother, Jennifer Treat, 36. Her vehicle was parked at the trailhead, and the trail extends for nearly 5 miles (8 kilometers) to Emory Tobin Lake. The trail ranged from improved walkways and boardwalks to hard-to-traverse areas with mud in some places and snow waist-deep in others., said Jerry Kiffer, Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad incident commander.

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Treat and her son began hiking the trail Wednesday afternoon and didn’t intend to stay the night. But troopers said they “became disoriented and lost the trail.”

They spent the night together on the trail. On Thursday morning, the boy was tired and didn’t want to hike any longer, troopers said. Treat left him to find help on her own.

“In her rush to find help, Treat reportedly tripped on a root and significantly injured her leg,” troopers said.

Searchers found Treat Friday afternoon, and took her off the trail by a helicopter.

The boy’s body was found later Saturday about 1,000 feet (300 meters) off the trail, troopers said.

Temperatures in the low 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 degrees Celsius) Wednesday evening dipped to lower overnight. Light rain, fog and mist persisted from Thursday through Saturday.

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