A 13-year-old boy who went missing from Owen Sound's Harrison Park yesterday evening was located safe and in good health this morning, in part thanks to his own survival skills.
Owen Sound Police say Zachary Harding was found around 10 a.m. after getting lost on the trail system near Harrison Park yesterday.
City Police say a citizen tip helped lead them to Zach. He was found on a trail not far from Highway 6/10, close to the Ice Cream Place.
Police officers and helicopters searched overnight for Zach after he was reported missing Wednesday evening from the playground area of Harrison Park.
Zach was reunited with his parents this morning shortly after he was located.
Ralph Harding, Zach's father, says his son was down at the park yesterday with his grandfather after school. Harding says Zach often plays at the park while his grandfather walks near the water and they later link back up. For whatever reason, Harding says Zach and his grandfather never reconnected yesterday and then Zach decided to go for a hike on a path near the toboggan hill on the east side of the Sydenham River.
Harding says his son simply lost his sense of direction and when it began to get dark, he started to look for shelter.
Zach spent the night in the cave and his dad says he was quite comfortable despite being dressed in only pants and a short sleeve cotton shirt as temperatures dipped near 3 C.
"He said he was fine all night long. He was comfortable in his little cave with just leaves in it for insulation," Harding says. "He went to sleep and then the sun came up in the morning and woke him up."
Harding says after Zach woke up in the morning he headed back out on the trail and was quickly located by an Owen Sound Police officer.
Harding was with his wife when they received a call from Owen Sound Police Insp. Dave Bishop with the good news.
"It was just a huge weight off of our shoulders," he says.
Harding says his entire family is so grateful for all the work of both Owen Sound Police and Ontario Provincial Police, and all the volunteers who aided in the search.
"It turned out to be an incredibly positive experience, for something that started off so negatively," Harding says.