March 13, 2015


Brett managed cattle operations at Zapata Ranch from 2014-6.

“ The cops just stopped by. A seven year old boy went missing from the dunes. He was last seen at 5 p.m. heading west.”

I read those words on my phone. It was from Scott. It was Sunday evening. I was reading The Crossing. After that I was thinking of my son. He was fast asleep and safe, but I couldn’t help think of him over and over and all I saw was him alone in the dark alone.

I called David Sanchez, a ranger at the dunes and asked if I could help. Scott and I headed north past big spring. We almost got stuck. The night cloudy with the moon begging to help. A few careful turns around some washouts and once almost driving into big spring, the north fence appeared in our headlights.

“Hey!” was the only word we needed as our calling out invoked no response. Several more stops and several more pleas for any signs were void.
Making our way back we then headed west and all we saw were 500 head of elk rolling.
Further south we hit lane 6 and headed for the park. Pulling into the parking lot to several sheriff and ranger vehicles, we walked up and asked what we could do. The search was being called off for the night.

I returned the next morning with Blue. I sat in the mobile sheriff’s office and discussed the plan. Kate called and asked if I needed help. I trailered back and picked up Sara and Kate. They were saddling up as I arrived. We loaded Queenie and Gus in with Blue and were pulling out when we got the call.

A state trooper had picked up the boy walking on a road.

Photography by Chris Haag