MAGOFFIN COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - A Magoffin County community is rejoicing after a missing toddler was found clinging to a cliffside - dehydrated, but very much alive.
Kenneth Howard was found alive and in good shape after several days outside alone. Credit: Ritter Mortimer (Salyersville Independent and Your News Today)
Police say Kenneth Howard was found just before 2 p.m. near a strip mine in Floyd County, which is on the border of Magoffin County. He was on a 50-foot, steep incline, 1,755 feet away from his home. They said crews found him when they heard him crying.
"It was a team effort," said a Magoffin County Emergency Management official. "We were guided there by God's hands."
A helicopter took the 22-month-year-old to a pediatric medical center. We are told Kenneth is in "really good shape" considering he has been outside by himself since Sunday night.
The toddler's parents are overwhelmed with relief, knowing that their son is alive.
"Disbelief, for a while," said Elden Howard, Kenneth's father. "'Til they told me they were sure it was him, and stuff, and I'd seen a picture. I said, 'that's my boy.' Tickled me to death. Best thing that ever happened to me in my life."
Sister station WSAZ asked Tasha Howard, Kenneth's mother, how difficult the last few days have been for her.
"It's been difficult, difficult. But I never did give up, 'cause I had faith," Tasha said. "I had faith, and I know God is with us because we wouldn't have found him."
Crews were amazed that Kenneth got as far as he did, over such difficult terrain.
"Over terrain, I would not, in fact I can't, even as a young man I don't think I'd even attempt it," said an official. "That child is a true Kentucky mountain boy."
According to the Magoffin County Sheriff's Office, Kenneth is being treated for dehydration.
Officials said hundreds of people helped search for Kenneth , both emergency crews and local volunteers.
"He's tough, that little kid is. I can't believe all the help. I don't know how we're going to thank everybody. But we've had people from everywhere. I really don't know where all they've come from, out of state, and everywhere to help us," said South Magoffin Fire Department Assistant Chief, Brent Handshoe.
Crews searched for roughly 67 hours before they found the toddler. We are told they actually searched very close to where Kenneth was found over the course of the search.
"I was froze to death and wet and every time I would think I was cold, I would think about that baby and then I'd about start crying," said Handshoe. "I don't know. I just didn't want to give up on him."
This case remains under investigation. Police hope to learn just how the child ended up on the cliff. They plan to see if Kenneth can communicate with them after he gets medical care.
We will update this as we learn more about Kenneth's condition.
You can watch the news conference with emergency management officials in the Facebook video below. (If viewing on a mobile app, click the link to view additional content.)