COFFEEVILLE – A massive search for a four year-old who wandered off from his house last Wednesday morning had a happy ending after first responders found him in a heavily wooded area about a quarter-mile from his house near Coffeeville.
Sheriff Lance Humphreys said dispatchers received a call from the boy’s mother at 10:29 Wednesday morning. Filo Simpson and Jimmy Weeks of Coffeeville heard the boy in the woods just after 1 p.m. after the first responders and volunteers had fanned out to search around the home.
“It took them a minute to get to him after they heard him, it was in a very thick area,” Humphreys told the Herald. Weeks gave him his shirt so he wouldn’t get scratched up on the return trip to the house. The four year-old was transported to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford as a precaution.
Humphreys said the boy had been watching cartoons while his mother was in the kitchen. When she went to check on him, he was gone. The youngster had about an hour start before the search got underway.
“He had up to a 45-minute head start before we got the call, but we all got right to work,” Humphreys said.
With extremely tough terrain and several bodies of water in the area, Humphreys said a large number of first responders were summoned to assist with the search, including a helicopter from the Mississippi Air National Guard.
“The helicopter was on the way when we found him,” Humphreys told the Herald. A search dog from Panola County Emergency Management Agency was also on the ground working when the good news was shared across the radio.
Other first responders assisting in the search included Yalobusha deputies, Coffeeville police officers, the Yalobusha County Emergency Agency, fire fighters from Pine Valley, Velma, Tillatoba, Coffeeville and O’Tuckolofa fire departments along with officers from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.
With searchers from multiple departments involved in the hunt, Humphreys said maintaining communication was important during the almost three hour search. The Mississippi Wireless Communication Commission authorized a special channel specifically for search to allow all of the agencies involved to communicate on one channel.
“Our county’s investment in the MS-WIN radios has been a big asset for our fire departments, sheriff’s department and EMA, both during daily operations and special events like this,” Humphreys told the Herald.