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Autistic West Virginia hiker lost in forest for 4 days is found alive

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - An autistic 18-year-old lost in the wilderness for four days was found sleeping under a bush yesterday, weak but apparently fine, and was reunited with his family, searchers said.

"To the best of our knowledge, he was just hungry and thirsty and fatigued," Jim Reneau, one of the nine searchers who found Jacob Allen, said at a news conference at the command post near Davis, about 150 miles south of Pittsburgh.

Allen, who wandered away from his parents while hiking Sunday, was found lying in a clearing about a mile from where his hat was found Monday.

Allen, who has the mental capacity of a 3- or 4-year-old, opened his eyes and rolled over to meet his rescuers when Reneau's son, Jeremy, called out his name.

"He was very quiet. He was nonverbal," said Jeremy Reneau, 25, the first to spot Allen. "But you could tell by his body language he was hungry."

Rescuers fed him candy bars and peanut butter sandwiches and tried to walk him out of Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, part of the Monongahela National Forest. When he became too tired, they carried him out on a litter, Reneau said.

Allen was in good condition last night at Davis Memorial Hospital in Elkins, where he was to be kept overnight for observation, hospital spokesman Bill Phillips said.

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