Trooper In Fight Against Time Finds Missing Toddler Who Latches On To Him And Won’t Let Go
Nov 18, 2022 by apost team
According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, around 600,000 individuals go missing in the U.S. every year. While many are found, some never return home.
That’s why New York State Trooper Brian Hotchkiss was urgently looking for a missing 2-year-old girl in a forest near the Finger Lakes in South Bristol, New York, in the winter of 2021. Hotchkiss, along with two other troopers, were racing against the clock, looking for the missing girl before it got dark, which would have made the search even more difficult.
The 2-year-old’s parents called for help after they lost track of their daughter, whom they had looked for in the woods prior to contacting the police.
When Hotchkiss and his fellow troopers arrived at the scene, they began by knocking on neighbors’ doors, asking if they’d seen the missing girl. But when that turned out to be a dead-end, they headed up a nearby mountain peak, which took around an hour to ascend.
Luckily, this story has a happy ending. Once Hotchkiss had reached the top, he noticed a pink dot sticking out from the middle of the forest. It was the 2-year-old girl’s winter coat. Hotchkiss rushed over to make sure that the girl was alive. Sure enough, the 2-year-old was fine apart from being cold and shaken up. Regardless, they sent the toddler to the hospital, where they later cleared the girl for release.
Because Hotchkiss was able to find the missing 2-year-old quickly, he likely saved her life, as the forest is quite hazardous for a lone child.
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It's easy for children to get lost in the woods or wilderness areas, even if they've lived near them their whole life. Even adults routinely get lost in the woods, so this is no surprise. However, it is often harder for children to deal with the stress of getting lost than it is for adults.
In part, this is because children are quicker to fall into fear in general. This is due to experience gained by growing up and biological reasons such as a different hormonal balance. We all know that it is harder to think when we are scared. This is because fear changes how our brains work. Survival processes, such as running away or getting ready to fight, are prioritized and other things, such as higher brain functions, are put on the back burner. Because of this, children can easily get lost even further when something scares them and the instinct to run away takes over.
If a child is older, you can practice certain techniques or tips with them in case they get lost. Remind your child that most wild animals fear humans and will go out of their way if they can hear them. In general, the rule of "answering a noise with a noise" is a good idea. Loud noises will put off wild animals, and searchers will be able to find you better if you respond loudly. Sometimes, children will actually hide from searchers because they fear getting punished for being lost. So make it clear to your children that getting lost is never something they will be punished for.
Of course, these tips only work after the child has reached a certain age. In the case of the missing 2-year-old girl, searchers such as Hotchkiss have to rely on their own wits.
“When the sun goes down, it turns into a completely different search,” Hotchkiss told reporters.
“These missing kids — it can go just really bad, it’s very time sensitive,” the trooper added.
Fortunately, the conditions weren’t too bad on the day that the 2-year-old wandered off, though Hotchkiss notes that the temperature was dropping. He and his colleagues had to act fast and climb the mountain.
"So after about 15 minutes of climbing through the trees, I found the stream and followed the stream and located the child. She was laying on her stomach on a rock. I was calling her name and ran over to her and I saw her arm move and I knew she was alive. My heart just dropped. She hugged me immediately and wouldn't let go," Hotchkiss said.
Community members on- and offline have thanked Hotchkiss for saving the girl’s life.
“Thank you very much for your service, sir, and be careful out there. We can't afford to lose you,” Frank-Lee Scarlet commented on YouTube.
“Heartwarming situation.... Good Job Trooper!” Jack Guymon added.
According to Your Hike Guide, parents should always keep children in view while in the wilderness.
“This is another one of those common sense rules, that believe it or not, parents don’t follow as much as they should. Just because it’s a well-marked trail doesn’t mean children can’t get lost. Keep younger children close to you, always in view. An arm’s length away is even better. For older children, parents may feel comfortable keeping them within sight or sound,” the website advised.
What would you have done in this situation? Have you ever been lost in the forest before? Let us know and be sure to pass this story on to family and friends.