By Heartland News
MADISON COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Search crews found the missing three-year-old Madison County boy alive after he was missing for more than 48 hours.
Three-year-old Joshua Childers was moved to another hospital. He is in good condition with only minor scratches from sticker bushes, according to his father Adam Childers.
Hospital officials in Iron County tell Heartland News there has not been a change in Joshua's condition but they are transfering him to Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Crystal City, Missouri because of its extensive pediatric center. Crystal City is near Festus, Missouri.
The Madison County Sheriff says Joshua Childers was found at 4:05 p.m. Wednesday by a searcher in Iron County about three miles away from the boy's home.
"First thing he asked for was milk, so he's doing fine," said Adam Childers, Joshua's dad. "He's scratched up, you know, a little bit from the sticker bushes and stuff, but other than that he's fine."
"He told me he saw the helicopters and he hid from the helicopters. Other than that, he told us he went on a hike," Childers said.
Police say Joshua Childers slipped out the back door of his home on County Road 518 in rural Madison County, Missouri between Fredericktown and Arcadia Monday afternoon as his father was napping and his mother answered the phone. The home is near the Iron/Madison county line.
His father works the night shift. Joshua was wearing a T-shirt and a pull-up diaper.
Donal Halpin of Fredericktown found Joshua in the woods Wednesday afternoon.
"I had intention of going to work, but rained out so then I came back home and I was listening to the scanner and they said they that they needed more help so I just decided to come out here," Halpin said. "I was with the search party and we got separated. I took, the sheriff and them had come up on the hill and look at some footprints. And took them back down the hill and I got separated with my party and I was just out there by myself. Now, I was just following the roads back trying to find my way back out and I just seen two dogs off to the side messing around and I decided to walk over there and see what they was looking at. I seen two little butt cheeks sticking up down there. Run over there and said, 'Hey bud,' and he just sat right up. 'You wanna go home?' and he said 'Yeah' and he put his arms up and I got him and carried him down the hill. He was just fine. I'd talk to him and it was 'yep, yep'. He was hanging on to me tight though."
Halpin tells Heartland News Joshua had on a T-shirt, one shoe, but the pull-up diaper didn't make it through the couple days he was in the woods. Monday, the searchers found a shoe that Joshua's parents identified as what he was wearing at the time of his disappearance.
Halpin gave Joshua a Milky Way candy bar when he got him back to his truck. Halpin took the boy to a nearby home where some locals cleaned Joshua up a bit and gave him some milk.
Becky Halpin, the wife of Donald Halpin, said she could hear the boy crying in the background when her husband called her with the good news. He told her he heard the boy crying in the woods.
Crews from fire departments, the Missouri Water Patrol and several hundred volunteers searched the wooded area, ponds, and creeks in Madison and Iron County. Volunteers used four-wheelers and police called in K9 units to help with the search.
"Thank you to all the people that came out," Childers said. "I had no idea there was that type of people in the world. So I can't say thank you enough. My boy's home and it's thanks to all the guys and women and kids, everybody that were out there."
The area where Joshua was found is in the Mark Twain National Forest.
"This is some of the most rugged terrain you can come up against here," said Madison County Sheriff David Lewis. "It's the Mark Twain National Forest. I mean it's rocks, and real steep hills, ravines, creeks. Right now the creeks are up so it's really rough country."
Sheriff Lewis called the rescue a miracle of people working hard to find Joshua.
"He appeared to be no visible injuries and he was in very good spirits. He was talking," said Iron County Sheriff Allen Mathes.
When asked if he was in shock, Mathes said, "Yes, and just delighted (Joshua was safe)."
"I haven't slept since Monday morning," Childers said. "Right now I'm afraid to sqeeze him, cause I might pop him. I'm going to nominate him for the Grizzly Adams award and take him bear hunting with a stick. I don't know too many grown men who could do what he did."
Joshua was going to be held overnight in the hospital as a precautionary measure. He was asking for hot dogs, milk, and ice cream.