Justin Bailey

Jason Woolstenhulme knew the man walking down the road through Oakley on Tuesday afternoon.

His clothes were dirty and soaked, his face sunburned and unmistakable.

"I drive around the town quite a bit, so I was looking for him," Woolstenhulme said. "As soon as I saw somebody coming off that hill I knew it had to be him."

Frustrated by his autism, Justin Bailey, 20, wrote his family a note and walked out the door of his Kamas home on Sunday afternoon. Originally called a suicide note, the letter Bailey left "expressed displeasure with his situation," said Summit County sheriff's detective Josh Wall.

"But that note told us that he left on his own free will and wasn't abducted," Wall said. "Maybe he's not happy with his situation, but he probably doesn't have the capacity to kill himself."

Police worried instead about how he might survive on his own.

Bailey's autism makes him function on the level of a 7-year-old child, Wall said.

With information on Bailey's last known whereabouts and a possible sighting reported in Oakley, about 100 searchers, including helicopters and dog teams, spent three days and two nights combing the woods in a five-mile stretch between the two towns.

Bailey knew people were looking for him, but his autism caused him to hide when he heard searchers, police said.

"He had seen helicopters and thought they may be able to see him," Wall said. "He thought he may be in trouble for hiding from us."

Police worried about the weather around the Uintas, which can be brutal even into the summer months.

"In this area, you always worry about that," Wall said. "You get a little bit of wind and it gets cold. The weather can change from a nice day to snow in a couple of hours."

But for two nights, the temperatures stayed mild, dipping only into the mid-40s. For two nights, the moon was nearly full.

On Tuesday, Woolstenhulme spotted Bailey walking down Weber Canyon Road, a street the runs through the Oakley city limits. The man recognized Bailey from news reports and stopped to talk.

"I told him I was there to help and he jumped in the car with me," Woolstenhulme said. "He told me he knew it was Tuesday and that he had been gone since Sunday. He said it was cold at night."

Woolstenhulme asked Bailey where had slept during the nights he was missing, but the man did not respond. Police hope to debrief Bailey over the next few days, Wall said.

Bailey was dehydrated Tuesday and may have drank untreated water, but his injuries appeared minor, Wall said. Bailey was taken to a Heber hospital where doctors were monitoring him overnight.


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