Search for missing youngster short and successful 4/25/2014

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 25, 2014

Search for missing youngster short and successful

By John Howell
The search for a missing 10-year-old boy Monday night came to a rapid and satisfactory conclusion when emergency responders found him hiding near his home in dense woods in southeast Panola County.

Family members told search and rescue volunteers that the youngster had grown angry Monday afternoon when he had been forbidden to play with friends. He ran off about 5 p.m. into woods nearby. When the approach of darkness failed to drive the youngster inside, his family became concerned and contacted the Panola County Sheriff’s Dept.

Deputy Sheriff David Mills responded to the home and requested assistance, mobilizing Panola County Search and Rescue and the Bynam Volunteer Fire Dept. volunteers about 7:30 p.m.

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By 8 p.m., more than two dozen trained first responders were staging on a road near the home, planning a search that would be conducted in total darkness. Panola Emergency Management Agency Director Daniel Cole interviewed the boy’s mother.

Yes, she said, there was a pond nearby. No, he does not know how to swim, she said. Several volunteers exchanged concerned glances. Others spoke in hushed voices about the density of the rattlesnake population in those woods.

The boy’s mother furnished Cole with articles of clothing the boy had worn recently. Cole took the bag of clothing and a tracking dog, preparing to walk with the dog to an area where he might connect the scent from the clothes with a scent on the ground.

But the first responders were also aware that the boy’s decision to run and hide from his mother might have backfired on him. They reasoned among themselves that when he’d heard his mother’s frantic calls he might have become more scared of facing her than hiding in the woods alone.

The arrival of vehicles with flashing lights along the road near his home may have reinforced the boy’s decision to keep his distance, first responders reasoned together.

So they decided to call to him using the public address on an emergency vehicle, using his nickname, encouraging him to come out and save all those people the effort of searching for him. During that announcement Bynam Fire Chief Tony Ragon said he thought he heard the boy call back in response. Searchers had walked a short distance toward the response.

“Got him,” came a cry from the nearby woods.

“They got him,” other first responders repeated, passing along the word as though to confirm among themselves that there would be no all night search in darkness after all, not this time.
Deputy Sheriff Mills walked out with the youngster, holding him by his arm. Mills put the boy into his pickup for the final leg of the short trip to his house.

First responders then began exchanging stories about what would have awaited them at home if they had pulled that stunt as a 10-year-old. “A whooping!” was mentioned several times.
It was shortly after 8:30 p.m.