Chris Leigh was on his way home after riding some Iron County ATV trails with friends and family in Iron County when he came across two lost little boys.

"We rode down and turned around and were trying to get back to the house, and we found two kids lying out in the middle of the road," Leigh says. "It was pure luck we came across them."

The boys, 5-year-old Jaden and 2-year-old Shayler Wright, were thirsty and scared but healthy. They'd been missing for nearly five hours and had wandered three miles from their grandparents' cabin when Leigh came across them about 7:20 p.m.

"They said they could hear us when we went by and ran down to the road," he said. "They didn't know exactly where they were. ... They didn't realize how far they'd gone."

The woods in the area about 10 miles north of Parowan are dense, and Leigh says he probably wouldn't have seen the boys if they had been even 50 feet off the road.

Leigh and his companions called authorities, gave the boys water and soda, put helmets on them and started to take them to the main road. A helicopter met them and took the boys to their relieved parents, Lindsay and Charles Wright.

Lindsay Wright choked back tears as she described the overwhelming emotions of the day, saying, "I'm just very happy to have them home and that they're safe."

The Wrights were just an hour and a half into what was to be an overnight trip to the cabin about 10 miles north of Parowan when the boys went missing. The couple searched for about an hour, then called authorities at about 3:30 p.m.

"Once we realized they were gone, it was very scary, very scary," said Wright. "We never imagined they'd be that far."

Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower said the prospects of finding the boys would have diminished as darkness set in.

"Spending the night out there was something we didn't want to have happen," he said. "The Sheriff's Department would like to thank Chris Leigh for being out there and having the presence of mind to quiz these kids and find out they were lost. ... It really helped us out."

About 30 people had participated in the search, Gower said. The search involved the Iron County Search and Rescue, Iron County Sheriff's Office and Utah Highway Patrol.

Wright said Saturday night the family was headed back home to Parowan after the ordeal. She said the boys didn't seem as shaken as their parents.

"They were thinking it was a great adventure," she said. "They didn't even realize how scared we were or what kind of danger they were in."

Wright says she wants to make sure the situation doesn't happen again, and plans to have a better safety plan in place before going back to the woods. And she hopes other parents will also do so.

"If they get lost, what are they going to do," she said. "We can give them more information. ... Come up with a safety plan and go over it often."


E-mail: dbulkeley@desnews.com