Holger the (little) Dane alive and well after night in forest

“Vigilant” toddler survives night in forest and is saved by Icelandic horse and horseman

Every so often a story in the news has a little magic to it. This week there was one of them.


A little, carrot-topped boy named Holger Kragh – just three-years old and bearing the name of a mythological Danish hero – ran off from his parents on a Sunday morning walk and got lost in the woods of North Jutland.


His mother said he had been trying to take his coat off. It was an early spring day – but still cold enough for a coat – so she put it on him backwards and zipped it up his back, so that he could not take it off.


He was with his parents and a group of adults near a scout hut in the north Jutland woods near Tranum Klitplantage nature preserve on Sunday morning, when he ran off. When they could not find him, his alarmed parents reported him missing.


The search quickly escalated to include the police and nearly a hundred citizen volunteers, who combed the woods for a day and a night trying to find the little red-haired boy in the blue cap and the backwards jacket.


A truck from ice cream company Hjem-Is even took part in the search – driving near the woods and ringing its bell – a technique that had proven successful in a similar missing-child case in Sweden.


A woodsmen, passing through the forest around three o’clock, later reported seeing a little boy that sounded like the missing Holger. But he had not been aware that anyone was missing and assumed an adult was close by. He walked on, and that was the last anyone saw of little Holger that day.


As night fell on north Jutland, little Holger was still missing and with growing desperation, the searchers – which now included helicopters and more than 20 search-and-rescue dogs –continued to comb the woods in a five kilometre radius around the scout hut where the boy had disappeared.


When the sun rose on Monday morning, the tired searchers still had not found him. Ominously, the police ordered the numerous wells in the vicinity to be drained.


On hearing that the little boy was still missing, a 45-year old man from Fjerritslev, saddled up his Icelandic horse, and rode out to see if he and the horse could possibly find the little boy.


Riding around an area about three kilometres from the scout hut were Holger first disappeared he suddenly spotted a tiny spot of blue deeper in the woods. He jumped a ditch and found little Holger Kragh – alive and healthy – and perhaps most amazingly (his grandmother later exclaimed) – still dry in the pants.


Holger’s coat – which was both the reason he ran away from his parents in the first place, and likely also the reason he made it through the cold night in the Jutland woods – was still zipped up his back.


“He was much, much tougher than we could have hoped,” Flemming Jacobsen, who led the search-and-rescue effort, told TV2 News.


“There are a damned lot of waterholes and drainage ditches out there. We have been smiled on by fortune and by Holger’s strength, his vigilance and his common sense,” said Jacobsen of the three-year old adventurer.