Moffat County Eagle Scout featured on BBC documentary |

Moffat County Eagle Scout featured on BBC documentary

Series to air in America this fall

Justin McAlexander holds up in his right hand a National Certificate of Merit from the Boy Scouts of America and, in his left hand, a laptop with a video depicting a match being lit during blizzard conditions. McAlexander, 19, earned the certificate as the result of a 2012 incident in which he and two friends had to resort to drastic measures to stay alive on Black Mountain. He also was interviewed for an episode of the BBC show "Fierce Earth" about his ordeal.
Andy Bockelman

— Good things come to those who wait, and with some of the circumstances Justin McAlexander has dealt with, maintaining a little patience is no problem. It was two years ago when he was in a very dangerous situation, but thanks to keeping a level head, not only was he able to keep himself and his friends alive, but he’s been able to be an example for others.

McAlexander is one of the subjects of a British Broadcasting Corporation documentary series titled “Fierce Earth,” a show aimed at teaching children how to handle emergency scenarios and extreme weather across the globe. An episode about blizzards features the Moffat County teen discussing a life-altering event that happened to him in February 2012.

He and two friends, Jesse and Mason Burke, traveled to Black Mountain near Freeman Reservoir for a day of snowmobiling, with the goal of meeting up with McAlexander’s parents, Bobbi and Bruce, later in the day. However, inclement weather complete with an onslaught of snow left the trio thinking they might not make it back home.

As a member of the Boy Scouts of America, McAlexander, then 17, was prepared for the worst, but it wasn’t until nightfall that he had to resort to igniting his snowmobile to burn the gasoline for warmth and visibility.

With only one match left to do so, McAlexander said the gambit paid off when he saw the search team coming for them.

“I think that was the best thing I’ve ever seen,” he said. “It was so cold up there, and I was only thinking if I’d ever see the light of day.”

Later that year, he received the National Certificate of Merit from the Boy Scouts for his actions demonstrating his survival knowhow and a mature handling of an emergency, the first scout in the Western Slope area to attain the prestigious honor.

Not long after, he and his family also were contacted by the BBC about detailing his experience on camera to teach others.

In order to do that, McAlexander led the British television crews around the setting that had changed his life, recreating that fateful day.

“It pretty much tells the story of what something like that does to your body, how it slows it down and why you need the proper equipment to survive,” he said.

His father also was interviewed extensively about the kind of training he had given his son that helped him in his hour of need.

The episode already has aired across the Atlantic as part of BBC’s children’s programming on CBBC, though the McAlexanders have had some trouble getting a full copy. Since it won’t air on TV in the United States until this fall at the earliest, and with the regional format differences in DVD, the family hasn’t been able to show everybody the program.

“We really want to get it to the guys who did the search and rescue, because they deserve a lot of credit,” Bruce McAlexander said.

Bobbi McAlexander was able to show clips of the episode to her third-grade class at East Elementary School, and they marveled at someone from their corner of the world talking about winter safety on an international level.

“They really responded to it, and the show is great for kids,” she said.

Since his experience on Black Mountain, Justin McAlexander, now 19, has had a fairly typical life, graduating from Moffat County High School last year and attaining the rank of Eagle Scout last summer alongside other young men in his scout troop.

He is attending Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, but his capability for planning ahead is still part of his life, with the goal of moving on to University of Wyoming, where he intends to join the ROTC program.

After that? Ideally, he’d like to be an Army Ranger.

“That’s been my plan since I was a little kid,” he said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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