BOUNTIFUL, Utah -- Jody Hawkins buckled and collapsed as she climbed into a sheriff's truck Tuesday, convinced that authorities were about to tell her that her 11-year-old son had been found dead four days after getting lost in the Utah wilderness.
Instead came the shocker: Her boy was found alive, and he was unscathed.
''I really didn't think he could survive that long in the wilderness," Hawkins said, her voice breaking at times. ''My brain still cannot comprehend that."
Jody and Toby Hawkins, her husband, described their ordeal yesterday during two news conferences at the family's suburban Salt Lake City home, where Brennan Hawkins made his first public appearance since being found. He answered only one question, saying he felt good -- before crouching on the ground by his mother's knees while his parents and four siblings carried on with the news conference.
''His personality hasn't changed one tiny bit," Jody Hawkins said earlier, adding that one of the first things Brennan asked was whether the Pokemon cards he bought on
''I tell you, that's what got him off that mountain," she said. ''They were here."
As for Brennan's reaction when he saw his picture on television: ''Sweet."
The boy disappeared Friday in the Uinta Mountains, about 100 miles east of Salt Lake City, somewhere along a dirt road at a Boy Scout camp. He was found on an all-terrain vehicle trail Tuesday by a volunteer looking for him outside the search area.
Brennan does not remember much about the four days he was missing, his parents said. They said they do not plan to push him to talk about his time in the woods, but they have learned a few answers.
He told his parents and a friend that he slept in a crouch, with his sweatshirt pulled down over knees to keep warm. And the parents said Brennan probably took their advice a little too literally about avoiding strangers.
''When an ATV or horse came by, he got off the trail. When they left, he got back on the trail," Jody Hawkins said. ''His biggest fear, he told me, was that someone would steal him."
It is unclear whether that delayed his rescue.
Brennan defied conventional wisdom during his time in the mountains: He went uphill instead of down, while ''typically children walk downhill, along the least path of resistance," Sheriff Dave Edmunds said. As a result, search crews focused on the wrong area.
Brennan's mother said he believes he was gone only one or two nights and does not remember even going camping or much else, because ''most of it was a blur to him."
''It's going to take a while to get everything out," Toby Hawkins said.
The couple said their son was born prematurely, and they described him as immature and a little slow but not mentally disabled.