JACOB LAKE, Ariz. – The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office released details Tuesday surrounding the discovery of 5-year-old Jerold Williams, whose body was found Monday afternoon near Jacob Lake, Arizona. It is believed the child, who was missing for five days and four nights in Kaibab National Forest, died from environmental exposure.
Jerold’s body was discovered at about 4:30 p.m. MST Monday. He was found approximately 15-20 feet from Forest Service Road 240 in Kaibab National Forest, according to a press release from the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office. Jerold’s body was found by a group of volunteers from Colorado City, Arizona, where his family lives.
“The group was driving along Forest Service Road 240 when some boys who were in the back of the pickup saw the body of Jerold on the ground,” the press release said.
Jerold was found fully clothed and had no obvious external injuries. There was no evidence of foul play indicated at the scene, the press release said.
An autopsy was performed Tuesday. Preliminary findings from the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office indicate the death was accidental due to environmental exposure.
Though the search for Jerold spanned five days and four nights, officials believe he likely died within the first 24 hours after he went missing.
“Based on the environmental conditions Jerold was exposed to it is unlikely he survived the first night,” the press release said.
Jerold’s body was found approximately 3.7 miles, point to point, from the last place he had been seen. Traveling by road, however, the distance was about 8.6 miles, according to the press release.
The press release stated:
Because Jerold was found close to the road and the road would have been a natural walking area for him compared to the very thick brush, it is believed that Jerold probably found his way to Forest Road 240 and followed it to Forest Road 241 in the direction away from the camp site and may have walked off into the forest to lay down to rest.
Jerold went missing Thursday afternoon while at an unimproved campsite with a group of about 20 people. Jerold’s mother told responders he had been chasing grasshoppers when he disappeared.
The main focus of ground efforts during the search for Jerold covered a 21-square-mile area. The search spanned five days and four nights, with 1,000 or more people assisting in the search.
“The support from the community was overwhelming,” the press release said. “There were close to 900 people from the community who collectively volunteered thousands of hours of their time to the search efforts, not only in the field, but also by providing meals and other support. A great majority of these volunteers were from the community of Colorado City who gave their full support to the search efforts.”
In addition to community volunteers, responders from state, local and federal organizations took part in the search, including the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, Pima County Sheriff’s Office, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Kane County Sheriff’s Office from Utah, Washington County Sheriff’s Office from Utah, Coconino County CERT Teams, U.S. Air Force Rescue, Arizona Wing Civil Air Patrol, Utah Wing Civil Air Patrol, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Arizona Division of Emergency Management, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Rocky Mountain Rescue Dogs, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Many local businesses also provided equipment and resources to support the search efforts.
“This was the largest spontaneous volunteer response the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office has handled,” the press release said, “and the cooperation of the community was greatly appreciated.”
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