A 22-month old Kentucky toddler survived in the woods alone for roughly three days after he went missing over the weekend.
Elden Howard was with his son Kenneth outside their home Sunday evening when Howard walked away for a few minutes, Magoffin County Rescue Squad Chief Carter Conley said.
The toddler was gone when Howard returned. He searched for the child for 30 to 45 minutes before calling 911, Conley said.
Rescuers found Kenneth on Wednesday afternoon nearly 1,800 feet from his house southeast of Lexington after hours of trudging through nearly 300 acres, authorities said.
His cries led rescuers to him.
The child was dehydrated but in good condition, according to the Magoffin County Sheriff’s Office. He is resting in a hospital and is expected to be released soon.
’A true Kentucky mountain boy’
“He was down a steep embankment, down about 50 feet. He was just in a little isolated area that no one thought he would be in,” Sheriff Carson Montgomery told CNN Thursday. “He happened to cry, and one of the searchers heard his cry.”
Montgomery said he’s certain rescuers had searched the rough terrain where Kenneth was found before.
“This child is a true Kentucky mountain boy.” Magoffin County Rescue Squad Chief Carter Conley said, according to CNN affiliate WLEX.
Conley said it was “a miracle in itself,” that rescuers found him.
Kentucky state trooper William Petry said he talked to Kenneth’s doctor who told him a toddler has a better tolerance of hydration than an adult or even a 12-year-old.
In an interview, Conley said rescuers prayed before they embarked on their searches.
“God was leading us and this team at the right time to the right place,” Conley said.
Hundreds of searchers scoured the woods
Hundreds of people and search crews from Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio helped searched for the toddler, WLEX reported.
Conley said as each hour passed, they knew the chances increased that their search and rescue could become a recovery mission.
He said the thought was out there but no said it out loud. “We still continued to do this as a rescue,” he said.
Conley recalled Kenneth’s mother cried and hugged him when she learned her son had been found, according to WLEX.
Desperate to find his son, Kenneth’s father had offered to put up a $,5,000 reward for his return, CNN affiliate WYMT reported.
“It’s a proud day,” Conley recalled telling Kenneth’s father, according to WLEX.
CNN’s Chuck Johnston contributed to this report.