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Missing toddler found

CORAPEAKE – A three-year-old that went missing for several hours near here Sunday was located safe and sound.

According to Billy Winn, Director of Gates County Emergency Management, the family called 9-1-1 after their two hours of searching for the child was unsuccessful.

“The family looked for the little boy for a significant amount of time before calling for help,” Winn said, adding he was notified shortly before 6 p.m.

Gates County Sheriff’s deputies were the first to arrive on the scene and took the initial report. They were informed that the toddler was playing in the front yard with the family’s dog when both wandered off into a wooded area.

The child lives with his mother at the home of his grandparents, Winn said.

“We called in the NorthEast Search and Rescue Team and set up a unified command post along with the Sheriff’s Office, the Sunbury Fire Department, the North Carolina Highway Patrol, and a few neighbors that volunteered to help us look for the child,” Winn said.

After a two-hour search, the toddler was located at the edge of the woods approximately eight-tenths of one mile from the home.

“One of the searchers was shining his flashlight and saw the eyes of an animal, which turned out to be the family’s dog,” Winn said. “Upon checking on that animal, it was at that point where the child was found.”

Winn added that the toddler was checked out medically at the scene by Gates County EMS and released to his mother.

“He was fine, no injuries thank goodness,” Winn noted.

“It was the outcome we were hoping and praying for,” Winn added. “It’s cases such as this where all the search and rescue training we do several times each year pays off.”

A Highway Patrol helicopter was en route to the search area, but the child was found prior to its arrival.

Winn also ordered the activation of the county’s Code Red Alert system.

“Through that system, we are able to direct alerts to specific areas of the county or they can be a countywide alert,” he stated. “In this case we sent out the alert to those living within one mile of the search area.”

Winn encouraged Gates County residents that have yet to sign-up for Code Red to do so.

“It’s free and it’s a very useful tool in cases such as what we encountered today,” he stressed.

Residents can sign up by visiting Gates County’s local government website (www.gatescounty.govoffice2.com). Those registering can choose to receive the alerts by phone call, text message or email.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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