Search teams look in an Eastern Kentucky wooded area for missing toddler
Kenneth Howard, a 22-month-old toddler who went missing from his Magoffin County home Sunday night, was found alive Wednesday afternoon and is in “remarkably good condition,” according to multiple sources.
Kenneth was found a little before 2 p.m. Wednesday and was alert, according to Magoffin County Emergency Management director Robert Prater. Kentucky State Police spokesperson William Petry said he was found around a mile away from his home near the Magoffin-Floyd county line.
Rescuers with the Prestonsburg Fire Department were doing a grid search in the area when they heard Kenneth call out.
“As we were coming down, we were fortunate that he had heard us and screamed out,” Prestonsburg Fire Chief Michael Brown said. “One of our guys heard him scream and at that point we all got quiet and a couple of guys started calling his name. Sporadically he was calling out, we found the location of the sound and went back and he was just sitting there.”
Brown said Kenneth was found in an area with rough terrain and a lot of foliage near a strip mine. Kenneth was found sitting on a flat area. The boy tried to talk to his rescuers, but isn’t very verbal yet, Brown said.
The rescuers had Gatorade and water with them and were able to get Kenneth to drink some before getting him a helicopter to be flown to a hospital to be checked out. The boy had a few minor scrapes but visibly seemed to be okay, Brown said.
“It was amazing,” Brown said. “Our crew, we were talking and these instances usually, they come out grim. But to come out with him being alive and well, it’s what gives you the courage to go on and continue.”
Kenneth will be treated for dehydration, according to the Magoffin County Sheriff’s Department.
“He’s in remarkably good condition,” said Ritt Mortimer, acting PIO for the Magoffin County Rescue Squad.
Magoffin County Sheriff Carson Montgomery sent the Floyd County Chronicle & Times a picture of Kenneth in the wooded area wearing only a diaper.
Kenneth’s parents had not yet seen the boy as of 2:40 p.m. Wednesday but they were notified, Mortimer added. Kenneth was taking tiny sips of water and communicating, according to Mortimer.
“Thanks to all who prayed, searched and helped in any way!!” the Magoffin County Sheriff’s Department said. “This is the best news ever!!!”
Search and rescue squads and various police groups had been searching for Howard since he disappeared Sunday night around 7:30 p.m.
“It was an amazing effort by many different agencies and crews ... it just so happens we were in the right place at the right time,” Brown said.
The boy’s dad was sitting on the front porch of the home and Kenneth slipped away through the back door, said Robert Prater, director of Magoffin County Emergency Management and a friend of the family.
Crews searched a half-mile radius for Kenneth Monday before extending the search to a mile radius Tuesday.
The search included multiple dogs, helicopters, off-road vehicles and drones with thermal cameras, according to the rescue squad.
Kenneth’s father, Elden Howard, offered a $5,000 reward Tuesday for his safe return.