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Posted: Sunday, August 27, 2017 12:34 PM

Updated: Sunday, August 27, 2017 12:34 PM

In Local Interview With WVLT Missing Blount County Teen Says "Prayer" Helped Him Survive In Smoky Mtns For 11 Days

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- From missing in the mountains, to being alive to tell his story, 18-year-old Austin Bohanan said the most miraculous part of his journey was how he ended up on a boat after being lost in the Smoky Mountains for 11 days.

In an exclusive interview, Austin Bohanan told Local 8 News anchor Donovan Long that prayer saved his life.

"The Lord works in mysterious ways," Brian Bohanan, Austin's father, said.

Austin said he didn't eat for the 11 days he was stranded in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He had a water bottle that he refilled by the creek, and that was all. He was found safe, though starved, after spending those days on his own in the deep back country of the mountains.

He told Local 8 News he was hiking a trail with his step-father, who he said drifted off to go look for a pair of glasses he lost.

"I couldn't find him, I couldn't find any sign of him or anything like that, so from that point on, I knew that I was alone," said Austin.

He was left to fend for himself. His focus was his Bible.

"My first instinct was to get to higher ground and see if I could see surrounding areas, so I went to the right of me and climbed to the top of the mountain," he said.

Austin said while search and rescue crews were on the ground and in the air, his eyes went to the sky in prayer.

"It felt like the right thing to do, and I needed to do it," he said. "It always kept me calm. I was never worried, discouraged, nothing like that."

Austin said he drew his strength from the Lord, who he said led him back to the closest body of water, where he flagged down a boater.

"I signaled for him and everything else, and he came over here saying, 'You're the one they're looking for,' and [I said,] 'Yes sir, I guess so.'"

The boater dropped Austin off on shore near the very place he was last seen entering the woods. Austin's dad was there with search crews.

"I just grabbed him, picked him up and didn't want to let him go," Brian Bohanan said. "It's a blessing, just a big blessing."

Austin lost 20 pounds in 11 days. He said the lesson he learned while stranded is to never take his family or life for granted.









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