A 12-year-old Boy Scout, lost in the wilderness of the San Bernardino Mountains for the past nine days, may have taken a picture of himself after he became separated from his troop, family members said Sunday.
Twelve snapshots were developed from a camera found by searchers combing 11,500-foot Mt. San Gorgonio on Saturday for Jared Negrete, who has been missing since July 19.
Most of the photos were landscape scenes apparently taken before the boy became lost. But the final picture on the roll of film was a photograph of the Scout’s eyes and nose, taken with the aid of the camera’s flash attachment, possibly at night after the youth disappeared. Family members said it appeared Jared pointed his camera at his face and snapped the picture.
“Evidently, the flash went off so we determined it was rather late in the evening,” said Harvey Beach, one of Jared’s uncles.
Beach and another uncle, Leo Cortez, said they believed the boy lost the camera while sliding down a portion of the mountainside within days of his disappearance.
“He was on his bottom sliding down to a lower area and water,” Beach said. The camera was found in the same general area where searchers discovered beef jerky and candy wrappers believed to have been dropped by the Scout.
“Jared always carried some goodies with him” and also had a two-quart water canteen, said Cortez, who has accompanied the boy on short hikes.
The film, food wrappers and earlier tracks helped rescuers narrow the search area to the south fork of Whitewater River, north of Mt. San Gorgonio, from the entire brush and boulder-covered mountain face.
And because of the discoveries, about 100 volunteers will continue the search today “full force,” said San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Lenew.
“There are areas in the south fork where someone could survive an extended period of time,” said Lenew, but as time passes “the chances of survival are a big issue.”
While nearly a dozen uncles and cousins gathered near the search area, the youth’s parents remained at their home in El Monte. The family has been having a “terrible time” since the 5-foot, 2-inch, 150-pound boy disappeared while on a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Scout outing, Beach said.
In addition to searchers on foot and on horseback, helicopters have been used to scan the brutal terrain. Infared monitors were installed at a number of high points Saturday night in hopes of spotting the boy in the dark. Only deer and other animals were detected by the monitors, authorities said.