Missing boy, 3, found alive in Missouri creek bed

By Cheryl Wittenauer
Associated Press / May 7, 2009
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ST. LOUIS - A 3-year-old boy was found in rugged Missouri woods yesterday, 50 hours since he wandered away from his rural home, authorities said.

A search volunteer found Joshua Childers in a dry creek bottom on national forest land, Madison County Sheriff David Lewis said.

He was in fair condition based on an initial assessment at a hospital, Iron County Hospital executive Ed Gast said.

"The parents would like to thank everyone who has assisted in the search and treatment of Joshua, and they ask that their privacy be protected at this time," Gast said.

Joshua slipped out of his house before noon Monday, wearing a T-shirt, sneakers, and a pull-up diaper. His parents searched about 45 minutes before calling police, setting off a massive search by authorities and volunteers.

"Today we brought in professional rescue people," Lewis said. "We tried to cover everything again and widened the scope."

Rescuers searched by land grids and water, with dogs, divers, and sonar equipment. Rain and cool temperatures worsened search conditions.

Lewis described Mark Twain National Forest as rough country, consisting of steep ravines, meandering creeks, and jagged rocks.

"I'm so happy, you can't believe it," Lewis said. "I'm going to go home and take a shower and go to bed."

Rick Stockham, a neighbor of Joshua's grandmother, told KSDK-TV in St. Louis that the woman had been "begging God to see that little boy alive one more time.

"She got her wish," Stockham said.