An 8-year-old boy who managed to survive two full days in a snow-covered Michigan state park after he went missing is speaking out.
Nante Niemi and his parents spoke exclusively to ABC News about his incredible rescue and what he did to survive.
"I prayed for being found and not stuck out here for the rest of my life," Nante said.
Nante, who is from Wisconsin, had been camping with his grandfather and three uncles in a remote part of Michigan's upper peninsula. The group had been collecting firewood Saturday when the boy went missing.
"My uncle, he said to go back to camp. And I couldn't say, I don't know, all the way back to camp because he already turned around and left," Nante recalled. "I was trying to go diagonal into the part where we came from and I ended up by like a river. I wasn't even any close to the part where we first went up."
After an initial search for Nante failed, an uncle called his parents and the authorities.
- 3October 10, 2022
"They took some time to search for him and couldn't find them. And they decided they needed to give up and call for help," Nante's mother, Jessica Buerger, said.
Almost 300 people came out to search nearly 60,000 acres for Nante, according to Lt. Jason Wickstrom of the Michigan State Police, who helped lead the search.
"It's very hilly, rough terrain. And this time of year, with snowmelt and the rain that we've had, there was a lot of standing water and the rivers were very high," said Wickstrom.
Buerger added, "I was worried about the cold and that he was by himself in the dark, crying. You know, we were hoping that he wasn't walking around at night and hunkered down."
During this time, Nante said he just tried to think positively and avoid letting fear take over.
Nante also said when he got hungry, he resorted to what was available.
"I just ate snow. Just because I usually do it in the winter," said Nante.
Nante said at one point, he noticed a helicopter hovering over him and he tried to get the attention of the people inside it.
"I was waving my hands in the air and yelling at them to get their attention," he said. "I saw that helmet poking out of the side of the helicopter but they didn't see me."
On Monday afternoon, Nante was found sheltered under a log, nearly two miles from his family’s original campsite in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
"I heard people yelling my name and I saw one green thing hanging and then I saw somebody. I ran straight to them," said Nante.
Nante was quickly reunited with his family and food.
"I ate a Clif bar and a primo meal sandwich. It tasted good," the boy said.
Nante and his family said they're grateful for all the people who helped them search for him. They threw a barbecue for rescuers Wednesday night to thank them.
Despite his experience, Nante said his love for the outdoors hasn't changed.
"Yeah, I'm still going to go camping," the boy said.