Search for child had ‘happy ending’

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“Gotta love a happy ending,” sheriff Mike Cleveland said over the police radio last Wednesday with a sigh of relief.
After nearly an hour of searching a home and a heavily wooded area nearby, deputies located a chilly 23-month-old baby, who had been missing from its McCurry Road residence for possibly several hours, near a patch of briars in the woods on a cold winter morning.
“My deputies did a fine job,” Cleveland said. “I think everybody on the payroll was out there looking for that child.”
A call came in to dispatch shortly after 8 a.m. that a child was missing in the area of McCurry Road. Authorities were originally told it was a 1-year-old child, but then discovered the child was nearly 2 years old.
“We’ve had small children missing before and found them hiding in the house. We were hoping that was the case, but it wasn’t,” Cleveland said.
A babysitter reportedly arrived at the residence around 5 a.m. when the mother left for work and the child was still asleep. Cleveland said it appeared the babysitter had fallen asleep while the child was still sleeping.
“Apparently, the baby woke up, got out of bed, went out that door, and the babysitter wasn’t aware of it,” Cleveland said.
Law enforcement sprung into action as Cleveland arranged for a bloodhound to head to the scene along with a search helicopter.
But the child was found before those resources were necessary. The boy was located by deputies Brandon Peace and Wayne Hinson about 200 yards away from the residence, near a pond, through a thicket of woods and briars when they heard crying as they searched the area.
“He was in the briars and bushes, barefoot and cold. It was about 35 degrees that morning,” Cleveland said.
The baby boy, dressed in a t-shirt and diaper, apparently didn’t leave home without his sippy cup, either, which deputies located alongside him.
Emergency medical services checked on the child and transported him to the hospital.
“As far as I know, he was in good shape,” Cleveland said about the child’s condition.
Cleveland said he’s thankful the situation didn’t have a more severe outcome and offered some advice for parents with small children.
“All you’ve got to do is put a lock up high on the door,” Cleveland said. “Just something up high where the child can’t reach it.”
He recommended installing a barrel bolt, which can be purchased at most hardware stores.

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