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Utah Scout feeling 'good' after ordeal

Boy's parents: 'Brennan continues to amaze us'
Brennan Hawkins leans back into his mother, Jody, as sister Mariah looks on at a news conference.


Boy Scouts of America

BOUNTIFUL, Utah (CNN) -- The 11-year-old Utah boy rescued after being lost for four days in rugged terrain summed up his condition in one word Wednesday: "Good."

Brennan Hawkins' brief response came when he was asked how he felt by a reporter at a news conference -- the family's second of the day.

Brennan was found safe Tuesday by a searcher driving an all-terrain vehicle. He was taken to Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City, where doctors diagnosed him with sunburn, scrapes, bruises and minor dehydration.

He was released early Wednesday morning and returned to his family home in the suburb of Bountiful.

Brennan made his first public appearance Wednesday afternoon in his family's front yard against a background of yellow ribbons, balloons and signs reading "welcome home."

The Cub Scout was placed front and center with apparent reluctance, and his parents requested that reporters not question him or the youngest of his four siblings.

Behind Brennan stood a large group of family members and friends who helped in the search effort.

While his family continued to answer reporters' questions, Hawkins sat at his mother's feet behind the microphones until the end of the news conference.

At one point, he demonstrated how he crouched on the ground and pulled his sweatshirt over his knees to keep warm while he was lost.

His parents said the boy appeared to be fine but that he didn't seem ready to talk much about his ordeal -- at which point Brennan shook his head.

"Brennan continues to amaze us," said his father, Toby Hawkins. "You know, his ability to deal with this initially, I made the comment that I thought that he was the most ill-prepared out of our five children to deal with it, and now I think he was maybe the best-prepared."

Brennan's mother, Jody Hawkins, suggested her son may have been avoiding searchers by following his father's advice.

"He had two thoughts going through his head all the time," she said. "Toby's always told him that 'if you get lost, stay on the trail.' So he stayed on the trail.

"We've also told him don't talk to strangers. ... When an ATV or horse came by, he got off the trail. ... When they left, he got back on the trail."

"His biggest fear, he told me, was someone would steal him," she said.

Brennan's uncle, Bob Hawkins, said his nephew may have been afraid to contact the strangers because they weren't using the password his family had adopted.

The family explained that Brennan was born prematurely and he is socially immature as a result.

"He doesn't have any disabilities; he's just immature," Toby Hawkins said.

'What a remarkable finish'

Brennan went missing Friday while camping at a Boy Scout camp about 80 miles east of Salt Lake City that is about 8,500 feet in elevation.

Toby Hawkins was asked how he felt. "What a remarkable finish and conclusion to this whole experience," he said.

"You go from incredible worry and concern. ... Then you go through the search process of not getting any clues. ...

"And then in just an instant, kind of flip of the switch, you go to incredible exhilaration and gratitude and appreciation for everybody's efforts that ultimately resulted in the successful rescue of Brennan."

Both parents' composure cracked as they described how they learned their son had been found alive.

Jody Hawkins said she feared the worst when officials from the Summit County Sheriff's Department asked her to get in a car because they had news.

"I, at that point, didn't think Brennan was still with us," she said. "I felt peace with the situation, but I didn't really think he could have survived that long in the wilderness. ...

"So when I was going to get into the sheriff's car I knew they going to tell me that Brennan was no longer with me.

"So I collapsed even before I got into the sheriff's truck, and when they told me that Brennan was still alive, ... my brain still cannot comprehend that."

Although Brennan hasn't given many details about his ordeal, he did tell his father that when he first realized he was lost, he said a prayer.

"I said to Brennan, 'Heavenly father has taken care of you,'" Toby Hawkins said.

As his parents spoke at their morning news conference, Brennan lay sleeping inside.

"His personality has not changed one tiny bit," said Jody Hawkins. "He was cracking jokes to us within 20 to 30 seconds when we saw him yesterday."

One of the first questions Brennan asked after he was rescued, his father said, was if the Pokemon cards he had ordered on eBay had arrived.

Found by ATV searcher

The boy was last reported seen around 5:30 p.m. Friday by a climbing wall supervisor who said he saw Brennan removing his climbing gear.

When the boy failed to show up for dinner an hour later, Scout leaders began searching.

On Tuesday, volunteer searcher Forrest Nunley driving an all-terrain vehicle came across the boy around noon (3 p.m. ET) about a mile and a half south of Lily Lake -- five miles west of where he was last seen, said Summit County Sheriff David Edmunds.

"His face was dirty," Nunley told CNN Wednesday. "And he was all wet."

"I approached him and I asked his name. He says, 'I'm Brennan,'" said Nunley, who called 911 and gave the boy dry clothes, food and water.

"He was really pretty well out of it," Nunley said. "He was a little worried. ... He thought he was in trouble." (CNN Access)

Volunteers had delayed searching the area where Brennan was found because they thought it unlikely that the boy crossed the nearby mountain ridge to get there.

Brennan told rescuers he'd had nothing to eat or drink during his ordeal.

After eating and drinking, the sheriff said, Brennan -- wearing the same blue sweatshirt, nylon shorts and climbing shoes he was reported wearing Friday -- "wanted to play a video game on one of the searchers' cell phones."

CNN's Rusty Dornin, Ted Rowlands and Peter Viles contributed to this report.

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