On the afternoon of April 23, 2018, a parent’s worst nightmare came true. A six-year-old boy, Kaydon Leach, went missing. His parents promptly called the police. And then the race against time began.
A Frantic Search
Officials quickly stepped up their search efforts. By 7:00 in the evening, over a hundred people were combing that family’s corner of Blount County, Tennessee, looking for little Kaydon. The Blount County Bureau of Investigation put out an endangered child alert. Rescue teams formed. Soon, the teams were performing grid searches over two thousand square feet of Blount County.
Rescuers all know that if someone disappears and doesn’t turn up in twenty-four hours, chances that they’ll come back alive go way down. Soon, the search included a SWAT team, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, a Black Hawk military helicopter, local volunteers, and even some K-9 teams. They all worked through the night to find little Kaydon.
Even people who didn’t qualify for the search teams turned up to help.
“We knew it was going to be a long night,” volunteer Megan Kessler told news station CBS 8. “We brought coffee, chili, whatever they needed. We wanted to make sure we could supply it. They wouldn’t let us search, so we did what we could.”
How Did He Get There?
Time was running out. But twenty-two hours later, rescuers found the boy half a mile from his home, near the community of Top of the World. Top of the World, Tennessee, is a small, isolated community that sits in the middle of some pretty rugged territory. It borders the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There is a forest nearby, as well as a freeway. It was no place for a small child to be wandering around alone, especially all night long. And especially in the rain.
But He Wasn’t Alone
When rescuers found Kaydon, he wasn’t alone. The family dog, a tiny black and white terrier named Chula, was with him. Chula had stayed with Kaydon through the long night. Also, she wasn’t about to let anyone hurt him! Rescuers say Chula growled at them when they approached. Soon, however, Kaydon’s faithful friend realized that the rescuers were there to help.
Kaydon was cold, after spending all night out in the rain. His skin was purple. The search team wrapped him in blankets and a jacket and took him to a hospital. Later, Kaydon and Chula went home. Their family said,
“We’re so thankful to everyone, from local law enforcement agencies to volunteers, who helped us find Kaydon. The amount of support we have received has been tremendous, even from people we don’t even know. We appreciate all our friends and neighbors, and ask for privacy at this time.”
And a Little Help From Technology, Too
Neighbors organized the initial search through an app called NextDoor.com. NextDoor allows neighborhoods to keep in touch. Normally neighbors will communicate about garage sales, lost pets, and neighborhood business. But in this case, the app made it quick and easy to rally the entire community around the search.
You can learn more about the rescue in this video from WBIR news.
Featured Image is a screenshot from the featured video.