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Medford teen home safe after ski ordeal

MEDFORD — Nicholas Joy, the Medford teen who survived two bone-chilling nights outdoors after becoming lost on Maine’s Sugarloaf Mountain, arrived back home Wednesday. But he wasn’t ready to publicly recount his ordeal just yet.

The 17-year-old pulled into the driveway of his family’s bungalow on Carolina Street about 2 p.m. and was whisked by his mother, Donna, past a crowd of reporters and into the house, where relatives waited to greet him.

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“He feels awesome. It’s a celebration,” she said.

Joy’s mother and sister, Alysson Atherton, stood on the front lawn of the home, which was decorated with balloons and welcome-home banners.

“He’s just tired and overwhelmed,” Atherton said. “At some point in the future, he’ll tell his story if he wants to.”

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Joy went missing Sunday, when he and his father, Robert, took different trails while skiing. He was found Tuesday morning when he appeared on a road a couple of miles west of the ski resort.

Joy used skills he learned from watching a TV show about wilderness survival to build a snow cave to keep warm, and dipped into an icy stream for water.

A team of nearly 100 people, including members of the Maine Forest Service, US Border Patrol, and Sugarloaf’s ski patrol, searched for two days.

Donna Joy declined to detail how her son ended up so far off the trail, or what was going through his mind as he struggled through the frigid nights. She described Joseph Paul, an off-duty Warwick, Mass., fire captain who found her son while snowmobiling, as “an ­angel.”

The teenager was kept in a Maine hospital overnight and released Wednesday morning. Donna Joy said her son was in good health and was happy to be home.

“He’s feeling exactly like he did a week ago,” she said. “He’s in a good frame of mind.”

Atherton said she had been in Maine since Sunday, helping with the search.

“It was the greatest moment ever when I ran into his hospital room and saw him,” she said.

Nicholas Joy’s brother, Mike Atherton, said he had just started up Sugarloaf with his sister Tuesday morning to search when they got a phone call from their mother — Nick had been found alive.

“We only made it 10 minutes up the hill,” Atherton said. “My mother couldn’t stop crying on the phone, and then my sister started crying. . . . It was one of the greatest feelings ever.”

At the family’s home Wednesday, a neighbor brought homemade cookies, and Kelly’s Roast Beef dropped off three grocery bags full of food. Joy’s cousin, Michelle Quattrocchi, brought a cake. She said she wasn’t surprised he survived.

“He’s a smart kid,” she said. “We just knew it wasn’t going to be bad news.”

Jarret Bencks can be reached at Bencks.Globe@gmail.com.
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