Sammy Boehlke - Strange disappearances from US National Parks

Sammy Boehlke, Disappeared October 14th, 2006, Cleetwood Cove, Crate Lake National Park, Oregon.

Sammy Boehlke disappearance, Crater Lake

Sammy Boehlke, an 8 year old boy,  was last seen by his father, Kenneth, on October 14th of 2006 at around 4pm near the Cleetwood Cove area at Crater Lake. Crater Lake has a spectacular caldera, which is a crater filled by water formed by the explosion of a Cascades Range volcano about 7,000 years ago. The terrain around the lake varies from nearly flat to gently rolling, with large blocks of lava and small precipices scattered about. The woods are lodgepole pines and other conifers.

Sammy had a passionate personality, bordering on stubborn. He had a mild form of autism, which manifested itself in a fear of loud noises and bright lights. That complicated the work of the more than 200 search-and-rescue workers who arrived at Crater Lake after Sammy's disappearance on October 14 which meant they couldn't use air horns or whistles.

The boy and his father had stopped to play tag (hide and seek) on a cinder slope where Sammy saw some yellow he hoped might be gold. As darkness approached and his dad walked a short distance to the car so the two could return to their rented cabin near Diamond Lake, Sammy stayed on the slope, refusing to come down.

Kenneth Boehlke chased up after him, he said, but Sammy, likely thinking it was a game, stayed 50 feet ahead."I never caught up with him, and at that point he disappeared over the top somewhere and I lost him," said Boehlke, 48.

The search force quickly increased to more than 200 people combing an area of about 6 square miles, or 4,000 acres. For a week, searchers scoured the area with dogs, helicopters and heat-sensing cameras, but no trace of the boy was ever found. Intermittent searching continued after this despite heavy snowfalls in the area. The park, at 7,000 feet, averages more than 500 inches of snow a year. Technical crews searched the slopes leading from the rim of the caldera down to the water, a drop of 700 to 1,000 feet, even though it was unlikely Sammy would have fallen into the lake because of obstacles on the slope.

Crater Lake Oregon

The boy had camping experience but given his age he had no formal training in wilderness survival and he was wearing a winter coat, long-sleeved T-shirt, cargo pants and light shoes when he went missing. Officials said they found no clues to his whereabouts after the first day even though a helicopter crew spotted some tracks, but they turned out to be from wildlife.

It is a little strange that a boy of Sammy's age who was just "slightly autistic" would just run off into the woods for no reason, and keep going further and further. Given it would be cold, his basic human instinct would be to turn around and come back to his father, especially if he was calling for him. even if he was hiding from him for a 1/2 hour or so. This leads some to speculate he was actually running or hiding FROM his father, perhaps his father was angry or threatening to punish him.  It seems unlikely that f you were leaving a park you would stop the car by the woods and play hide and seek with darkness approaching. There seems to be more to the story than meets the eye, but apparently,  there was a passing motorist close by who spotted Sammy also disappearing into the woods which confirms the father's story to some extent.