An autistic man missing from a camp in northwest Wisconsin was found alive Sunday night. Keith Kennedy was dehydrated with a low body temperature, and lots of bug-bites. But rescuers stabilized Kennedy,25, before flying him to the University of Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis. Hundreds of volunteers looked for the Minnesota man, who needed anti-rejection drugs after a kidney transplant 13 years ago.
A Saint Paul fire fighter found Kennedy conscious and alert about 7 pm in a remote wooded area about a mile from the Trade Lake Camp near Grantsburg. He walked away the previous Sunday. Staff members thought Kennedy sneaked back for a second helping of popcorn, and did not return to his cabin because he didn’t want to get in trouble.
We may never know the true story, since Kennedy’s autism only lets him speak four words. Burnett County Sheriff Dean Roland said Kennedy apparently bedded down for about 2 to 3 days, based on the matted grass in the woods. Researchers went through the area twice but Roland said the visibility was hampered by dense levels of grass and thistles. The sheriff said it was tough terrain, and Kennedy was tough to survive in it.
He guessed that the man ate vegetation and drank from a nearby creek. Fourteen developmentally disabled adults stay at the camp for a week at a time. Kennedy was there two other times, and officials said he never did anything to assume he might run away.
(Audio contributed by Jeff Petersen – WIXK)