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Autistic Man Survives Three Weeks in Utah Desert Without Supplies

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An autistic man survived a harrowing ordeal when he was stranded for three weeks in the remote Southern Utah desert. William LaFever took off on a 150-mile journey along the wild Escalante River, and decided to continue the trip after his supplies were stolen. William's father says that the 28-year-old did not realize how arduous his journey would be when he planned to hike from Boulder, Utah to Colorado Springs, Colorado.

William is being treated for starvation and dehydration at Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, Utah. He has experience hiking in the Colorado mountains but did not realize how much different this trip in Utah would be. He traveled about 50 miles over three weeks before he was spotted by helicopters last Thursday. Authorities noted that it was a miracle that he was walking out in the open because if he were under a tree, the helicopter pilot would not have noticed him. William was so weak that he could barely wave an arm to flag down the helicopter.

William's mother, Anita, says that she is still in shock but is thankful that authorities found her son. She also said that William believes he is an American Indian and that he recently gave up his apartment and sold his possessions to live in the Utah desert. She also said that William is very stubborn and refused to give up on the idea, although his family pleaded with him. Authorities also noted that William survived on frogs, roots and water and initially refused to get into the rescue helicopter. Eventually, after letting William sit in for eight minutes while eating a granola bar and a Gatorade, they were able to coax him into the helicopter. They say that he is lucky to be alive, but that because of William's mental condition, he believed the trip was a spiritual experience.