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LOST FOR 16 HOURS .. I'D ONLY GONE TO HUNT FOR DINOSAURS; Sleeping toddler, 3, found safe in wood.

A TODDLER lost in a freezing wood was found safe and well yesterday - and calmly told rescuers: "I was looking for dinosaurs."

Three-year-old Cameron Munro was discovered 16 hours after he wandered off while his mother's back was turned.

A searcher with a sniffer dog found him asleep under an up-turned tree root, covered in bracken.

After a hospital check-up and four rounds of toast, unflustered Cameron said: "I was looking for dinosaurs. I saw some baby ones but they ran away, then I saw some baby foxes.

"I went to sleep and it was dark, but I wasn't frightened."

A team of 300 searchers, who scoured the desolate Scottish beauty spot near the Falls of Shin in Sutherland, had feared the worst.

Falling temperatures and darkness had forced them to call off the hunt until early yesterday.

Amazingly, Cameron was found safe and well at 8.30am curled up asleep, just half a mile from the spot where he had disappeared. His relieved mother Jennifer, 35, from Ardgay, said: "I'm overjoyed. I feared he might have been abducted."

She added: "I had turned my back for a minute and he was gone.

"I was just strapping his sister Annie-Rose into her car seat.

"He's mad keen on dinosaurs at the moment and thinks they live in the woods.

"I found a piece of branch about a couple of feet long lying discarded on a woodland path.

"It was just the length that Cameron would have used as a pretend sword to fight the dinosaurs.

"This gave me hope he was somewhere in the woods rather than in the river." She added: "He's a wee toughie and was well dressed with several layers of clothing and wellington boots.

"I was just amazed at the number of people who turned out to look for him and I can't thank them enough. It was a very anxious 16 hours." Cameron's dad, gamekeeper Marcus Munro, 33, said: "It was the worst 16 hours of my life.

"Cameron somehow found himself an ideal shelter. The tree roots had formed a sort of natural canopy, keeping the ground where he was lying dry and him out of the wind.

"The medical people said that his layers of clothing - a vest, fleece top and jacket - kept his torso warm and prevented hypothermia, but his feet were freezing when he was found.

"You sometime forget just how hardy these wee guys can be.

"He certainly was hungry when he was airlifted to hospital - he managed to polish off four rounds of toast."

Rescuers cheered and hugged each other as news of Cameron's safe discovery filtered through.

The toddler and his dad were flown 40 miles by RAF helicopter to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness where the boy was checked over.

Rescuer Dave Riley, who discovered the youngster said: "I would never have found Cameron without my dog Rosie.

"When she started barking I knew she had found him. The dog needed an airborne scent and during the night it was flat calm. The breeze in the morning helped."

He added: "Cameron was in a very rough and difficult place. He had used almost adult intelligence in crawling into a spot to get the most shelter.

"I was amazed how chirpy and cheery he was. When I went to put my jacket over him he told me 'I don't need that, I've got a jacket'."

Cameron's grandmother, who is due to take him to see a dinosaur film tomorrow, said: "I began to wonder if I was ever going to take him on that trip. It was a nightmare for the family."
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Author:Nuwar, Sara; Dow, Alan
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 16, 2000
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