COCONINO COUNTY - Ariz. (KSAZ) - New details about the death of a little boy who vanished while camping with his family in Coconino County.
Jerold Williams was missing for five days before search teams finally found his body.
Now Fox 10 is learning more about how the boy died, and about the extensive search that involved over 900 people, including a group from the east valley.
Jerold was found about eight miles from where he was last seen. The medical examiner says the death appears to be accidental, due to environmental exposure.
Based on the harsh weather conditions Jerold was exposed to, it's unlikely he survived the first night alone in the forest. Many people were emotionally invested in this search, and several searchers returned home broken hearted.
"I feel like I failed, I let him down, maybe I should've come up a day earlier, maybe I shouldn't have come back to camp and taken a two hour nap," said Fredrick Niehans.
Frederick Niehans takes 5-year-old Jerold Williams' loss personally, having lost a child of his own he knows the heartbreak Jerold's family is going through.
He and other members of the Arizona 4x4 club have spent the last four days combing the forest near Jacob Lake looking for the boy.
"We would go as far as our vehicles could get us, and then we would get out and hike hours on end, we would go to ravines, rocky ledges, anywhere a 5-year-old boy might hide... and it was a very emotional roller coaster because you thought maybe here, every now and then we'd find a crevice where a child might hide, you get that hope," said Niehans.
That hope vanished Monday afternoon when the 4 x 4 group was in the area when another volunteer search crew found Jerold's body, about 20 feet from a forest service road. He was found close to 8 miles from where his family was camping.
"It sounds like for the most part he literally walked himself to exhaustion the way he was found, it looks like he literally ran himself into the ground," said Niehans.
Although hundreds of people helped look for the boy, Niehans says the terrain was overwhelming making it extremely difficult to search.
"It was so vast, we were so close," said Niehans.
Search crews combed 21 square miles, spanning five days and four nights with over 1,000 people helping out.