12-year-old dies during hunting trip

12-year-old dies during hunting trip

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Hypothermia likely claimed life of boy in forest near Olney

The search since Thanksgiving Day for a lost Whitefish boy in the snowy forests north of Olney came to a tragic end Saturday when the 12-year-old was found dead on Stryker Ridge, apparently from hypothermia.

Flathead County Sheriff Jim Dupont said Kodi Quinn and his father, Kelly, left to go hunting Thursday morning and were expected back by around 2 p.m. The family called authorities by early evening and provided a general location of where they might be, he said.

Flathead Valley Search and Rescue, North Valley Search and Rescue and CanAm Search and Rescue of Libby all searched until after dark for the Quinns' truck without any success.

"There are lots of logging roads in that area," Dupont said.

The media publicized a description of the truck Friday morning and by afternoon authorities received a report on its location. Search teams fanned out from that point, Dupont said.

Around dark, a very exhausted, hypothermic and emotional Kelly Quinn came walking out of the woods. Dupont said Quinn and the boy separated after the youth became lethargic on the trek out and couldn't continue. Kelly Quinn found a tree well that provided some shelter from the wind and topped it off with tree limbs for his son to stay under while he left to get help.

By then, it was snowing hard, Dupont said.

"There was a lot - about 2 feet of fresh snow," he said. "It continued all Friday night."

Searchers and the father donned snowshoes and attempted to retrace Quinn's steps back to the tree well; Quinn estimated it was four to five miles back in.

"And it was very steep through there," Dupont said. Quinn was also still suffering from hypothermia and experiencing some confusion, he said.

Searchers returned to their base camp around 2 a.m. Saturday, unsuccessful. The CanAm Search and Rescue and Nordic Ski Patrol went back out again at 6 a.m. while Jim Kruger, a helicopter pilot, took Dupont and Quinn up in Kruger's aircraft.

They began a systematic search of the ridges, located Quinn's blown-over tracks and then spotted a rifle barrel pointed upwards in the snow. Quinn had told his son to fire the gun if he thought he heard an approaching search party.

Search teams had heard a gunshot Friday night, but couldn't pinpoint which canyon the noise came out of.

From the helicopter, Dupont directed the search teams on the ground to the site of the rifle where they found Kodi Quinn near the tree well at about 2 p.m. The rifle had been fired.

Dupont said the helicopter set down near the site and transported the body out of the area.

Reporter Jane Rider can be reached at 523-5298 or at jrider@missoulian.com.

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