5-year-old Jerold did not survive 1st night, authorities believe; search report released

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.

jacob lake arizona kaibab national forest 5 year old jerold williams found lost boy
Jerold Williams, 5 years old, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

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.

Read more: Searchers find body believed to be 5-year-old Jerold Williams

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.

Emergency responders and volunteers search for 5-year-old Jerold Williams, Jacob Lake, Arizona, Aug. 8 2015 | Photo courtesy of Coconino County Sheriff's Office, St. George News
Emergency responders and volunteers search for 5-year-old Jerold Williams, Jacob Lake, Arizona, Aug. 8 2015 | Photo courtesy of Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

“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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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.



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  • RL August 11, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    This is heartbreaking. Prayers to all his family, friends and those who participated in the search.

  • fun bag August 11, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    these plygs make me so mad. the things i’ve heard about them doing to children over the years is just beyond words. It’s neglectful of them that this happened at the very least,,, and i’d still be skepticle of their official version…

  • fun bag August 11, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    a 5 yrs old walking almost 9 miles in a day…???…

    • tcrider August 11, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      I have to agree fun bag,
      I’m sure kids can cover the ground, but in one direction?

  • ladybugavenger August 11, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    Such a sad loss and with an overwhelming amount of volunteers that searched for days, this is heartbreaking and heartwarming.

  • Dexter August 12, 2015 at 6:11 am

    I knew this wasn’t going to end up as a happy ending when it got to 5 days and no sign of him.

  • debbie August 12, 2015 at 7:46 am

    oh god this has to be the hardest thing a parent could go thru.. i cannot even imagine and my heart just bleeds empathy for these people.. what a precious little special boy and hope and pray God speeds the family some kind of comfort and understanding.. i know YOU DID try with your entire heart and soul to locate your precious baby and that is evident in amount of resources you asked for.. and your community coming vigilantly to help you.. I had hoped and hoped that he was a stronger precocious little star that could withstand the elements.. but sometimes.. God just needs to bring his little angel home. Momma whomever you are.. i am soooo sorry. As far as the naysayers.. it is commen for people to just plug away negatively at their computer with conspiracy theories.. its natural in how some people deal with their own grief with stories like this.. and to the naysayers.. i am sorry this story hurts your heart but please consider this families pain.. and don’t group bully.. the investigators are not stupid.. i’m sure they’ve considered all possibilities.
    God Bless all the searchers, the people from Colorado City and Hilldale who came out, all the law enforcement from all the counties.. the private party searcher.. God bless all of you..

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