This Missing Boy Was Found Safe After 22 Hours, But He Wasn’t Alone There
Kayden and his parents were living in Blount County, Tennessee in a tight small community called Top of the World. The six-year-old was allowed to play alone outside as long as he was near his home and not walking off anywhere farther without his parents’ permission.
This deal worked perfectly for everyone until one Monday evening Kayden didn’t return home by 6 pm, his usual curfew. On April 23, 2018, Kayden’s parents were waiting for their son to come back in the evening. But this time, he didn’t. At first, they just assumed their son forgot about the time while enjoying his time outside. However, as time went by, Kayden’s parents started to worry…
A Good Kid
Kayden Leach was a happy little boy who loved being outside and exploring the surroundings like any other boy his age. Kayden enjoyed spending time with his pets, especially his white and black terrier called Chula.
When Kayden didn’t show up at 6 pm as promised, his parents initially thought he was playing somewhere near the house and happened to forget about the time. However, in the end, they decided to let Blount County Sheriff, James Lee Berrong know their son was missing. It was getting darker and colder outside, and the idea of Kayden being somewhere outside without a coat and alone didn’t sit well with them.
A Regular Evening
If you ask any parent what would be their worst nightmare regarding their beloved child, it would most likely be their child going missing. Any loving parent wants their children to be safe and happy. It is a horrifying experience when your kid suddenly vanishes…
Unfortunately, Kayden’s parents had to go through this horrible experience. Neither of them could understand why their beloved boy suddenly disappeared. All they wished for at the moment was for Kayden to come back home. What they didn’t know was that something very odd was happening. Despite being clueless about the situation, they did have a gut feeling something was wrong…
Every Minute Matters
Kayden’s parents knew right there, and then, there was no time to waste. They wanted to find Kayden as soon as possible and hoped he was somewhere safe. The Sheriff offered to help these poor parents right after he heard about the missing boy, which is usually not the case in situations like this. Often no one begins to search for a missing person before the 24 hour period had passed. But, fortunately, Kayden and his parents were living in a tight community, and this rule was disregarded.
Kayden’s parents felt sick to their stomachs knowing their little boy was somewhere all by himself and not even wearing any warm clothes. The County Sheriff didn’t want to scare the Leaches even more with the possible scenarios and started with the search of a missing boy right away.
That same evening around 7 pm, The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation created an endangered child alert with the description of the little boy. The alert was encouraging the locals to help find Kayden who was last seen at approximately 6 pm.
Kayden’s parents described their boy as being 4 feet tall and weighing 27 kg, or 60 pounds. He had blue eyes and brown hair. Kayden’s parents also told the Sheriff that he had a black T-shirt, gray sweatpants, and slip-on shoes in the evening he went missing.
So It Begins
The Sheriff took the search very seriously and involved a rescue team as well as a military Blackhawk helicopter borrowed from a McGhee Tyson Airbase located nearby. The search for Kaydon began soon after his parents phoned The Sheriff James Lee Berrong.
The rescue and search team who were involved in search of Kayden included nearly 100 first responders whose task was to cover 2,000 acres of mountains. While the team was quite big, no one at the moment knew whether it would be enough to find Kayden before it got completely dark or not…
There were indeed a lot of ground teams who took part in searching for the missing boy. Blount County Search and Rescue Team, Blount County Chief Deputy Jeff French, Blount County Fire Department, Blount County Sheriff’s Department, and the FBI, TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Information), all participated in the search for Kayden.
The spokeswoman for the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Marian O’Briant told WVLT, ” News that along with the military assistance, the ground search teams would search all night if that’s what it would take to locate Kaydon’s whereabouts.” Although it turns out, there were even more people who joined the search for a missing six-year-old.
The Local Community
So many different teams were involved in locating Kayden, although this didn’t stop the locals from joining the search as soon as they found out about the scary news. The residents first heard about the missing boy when the Blount County Emergency Services broadcasted on IPAWS, which stands for Integrated Public Alert & Warning System.
As soon as they listened to the message, they realized they needed to act quickly even though other teams were already participating in the search. This could happen to any child, and next time it could easily be one of theirs, and without any hesitation, the locals joined in.
The Usefulness of Smartphone Apps
The IPAWS announcement was not the only thing The Blount Community received. The news also appeared on Next Door – smartphone application which works as a private social network within neighborhoods. This allowed people who couldn’t help the search to still participate in one way or another to find Kayden Leach.
“We’re a very tight community. We try to help everyone. I got a phone call about what was going on. I was coming up the mountain from work and just shot straight over and did everything I could to help,” shared a local search volunteer with WVLT news.
Megan Kessler, who was one of the residents in the neighborhood took the initiative in the search for six-year-old as soon as she heard the bad news. She provided the emergency, volunteer, and rescue searches with food and water.
“We knew it was going to be a long night. 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,” Megan told WVLT News.
In addition, a Facebook post by the Tennessee Endangered Child alert was also created to help to find Kayden. The post included a photo with the description of the boy and the circumstances. WBIR Channel 10 also later shared this post.
When the Facebook post got updated with more information, it quickly received 2,000 shares and up to 350 reactions. It went viral fast. People from different parts of the country were worried about Kayden and hoping he would be found very soon. The whole community was participating in the search in every way possible along with the boy’s parents.
The Clock is Ticking
Hundreds of participants from the rescue team and search were trying to find Kaydon together with the local volunteers, but all of the efforts seemed to be useless. They were running out of time, and the boy was still out there in the cold all by himself…or so they thought.
Kayden wasn’t wearing a jacket or anything warm in that matter, and the authorities were worried he might get a respiratory infection if he stays out in the cold a little longer. As Kayden was still only six years old, this outcome could easily be fatal. These circumstances made the search for Kayden even more intense.
The Search Goes On
The search for a missing boy mainly focused on the area which was within a half-mile radius of where the Leaches lived. It couldn’t be expanded much as it was still pitch dark outside. Once the daylight had come, the search went on to the mountains and the surrounding rural area.
Kayden’s parents were sick worried about their son’s well being. They were very nervous, scared, guilty, and confused about why he suddenly disappeared. The Leaches felt like it was their fault for letting their son play outside on his own. But soon they were going to feel relieved as Kayden was fine and wasn’t alone after all.
A Tight Community
During this tough time, the community showed its true colors. The members were extremely dedicated and helpful during the process of searching for little Kayden. The residents stayed up all night giving out snacks and water to members of the rescue team. They were working very hard to find Kayden and this support was very much needed.
Despite putting in so much effort with no result at all, no one was planning to give up on finding Kayden. The boy was somewhere around and needed their help. Everyone was motivated and focused on finding him no matter how much time and effort it would take to bring him home safe.
In The Daylight
It became much more comfortable to look for Kayden after the sunrise. Even though everyone was tired after a long, difficult night, no one was giving up yet. They were hoping to find Kayden soon and bring him back to his parents.
The search team members had come up with more ideas on where to go looking for Kayden and knew they must find him as soon as possible. Kayden’s parents were going crazy from worrying their child is somewhere alone with no food and water in this cold weather. All they could do at the moment was to pray that everything would turn out to be okay.
Checking Every Possible Place
The search crew members even checked the lake to see of Kayden possibly fell and drowned but didn’t find anything. The helicopter was also actively involved in the search along with the volunteers and search members.
After the lake, the team also went to some abandoned buildings and mountains within the search area to check if the boy was inside spending the night, but he wasn’t there either.
The time was passing by, and Kayden was still not found. The Leaches tried to think of as many places as possible where their boy could be…They couldn’t ignore some scary thoughts and what might have happened to Kayden. Though the chances of something terrible happening in their community were slim.
No one including Kayden’s parents could understand why the boy disappeared all of a sudden. Kayden knew at what time he should be home and obeyed that rule always. It didn’t make any sense, and his parents knew something was not right.
The Search Goes On
The rescue volunteers were running out of places where Kayden could be hiding and tried to think of more locations boys his age would prefer to visit. They started thinking like a child and coming up with new ideas.
The volunteers decided to check the areas and places which were not considered previously, such as the woods and other abandoned buildings. What they didn’t realize at the moment was that Kayden was somewhere very near and soon they were going to find him.
In The Woods
The search crew checked every possible corner when they entered the woods close to the Top of the World community. This was the last possible place where Kayden might have been staying. If he wasn’t there, then there was no other place they could think of…
The clock kept ticking, it was already past afternoon, and Kayden was still not found. The volunteers knew they had to keep searching for him before it got dark again. Suddenly, they heard a sound from the forest which immediately caught their attention.
Following The Sound
The search teams and volunteers were finally getting somewhere after almost 22 hours since the boy went missing. They heard a loud bark coming from the forest and followed the sound until it got stronger and louder. The volunteers and search teams had no idea what they were about to discover but followed the growl and entered the woods.
The noise which they heard from the forest sounded as if it was coming from a dog and the teams continued following it despite not being sure what they would find in the end. After all, it was a big forest so it could be absolutely anything…
Safe and Sound
The sound led the volunteers and search team to Kayden! This place was quite close to his home so turns out all this time the boy was only half a mile away from his house.
Kayden appeared to be scared and couldn’t even move from fear. However, this was not it. What surprised everyone the most was the boy wasn’t there alone, he was with someone the entire time.
The boy was found after 22 hours since he went missing at 3:30 in the afternoon. He was in the woods together with Chula, his black-and-white terrier dog.
“The dog growled at the rescuers when they approached Kaydon, so the dog is a protector,” said BCSO Chief Deputy Jeff French. It was true; this little buddy was doing everything in her power to protect Kayden and keep him safe.
Kayden didn’t look too well when he was finally found. When asked how he was feeling, Kayden replied with “Very cold.” Also, his skin appeared to be cold and of purple color, as the outfit he was wearing that night wasn’t enough to keep him warm at night.
The search team asked Kayden where his house was, and the boy told said it. As soon as the address was established, the boy was brought to a safe place. It was apparent both, the boy and his dog needed medical attention as soon as possible.
A Visit To The Hospital
Before Kayden was brought back home to his parents, the first responders decided he should get checked by a doctor at the Blount Memorial Hospital. It was best to make sure Kayden didn’t have hypothermia or other possible conditions. After all, he spent almost one whole day in the woods with no food, water, and warm clothes.
Kayden’s parents were thrilled and relieved to see their son again after spending so much time worrying sick about his well being. They were amazed by the actions of their dog Chula. It was something you would usually read in the book or see in the movie.
A Big Thank You
As soon as Kayden Leach was found, his parents made an update about the situation while he was still in the hospital. The statement didn’t include any details on his health or why the boy disappeared that night, but they wanted to say thank you to everyone who contributed to a search of the six-year-old.
“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,” his parents said in the post.
Kayden’s return was celebrated by many people online. All of the hard work paid off, and it was wonderful to hear the boy is safe and alive after being alone in the cold for so long. One well-wisher wrote, “So glad he was found safe.” “Had the little guy on my mind since I found out he was lost. Something he can tell his grandkids, thank God,” shared another person online.
The whole community was celebrating Kayden’s arrival home after spending so many long hours worrying and searching for him. It was really a miracle they were able to find him deep in the woods. Fortunately, he wasn’t alone and had his little friend by his side.
Tons of Emotions
Kayden’s community experienced so many different emotions in the past 22 hours. A missing child is indeed a terrifying thing for every parent. Each community member immediately thought of their children and did everything they could to find the little boy.
Not only the community, but the entire country was celebrating Kayden’s return back home. The prayers had been answered, and he was finally found.
The sheriff was also glad Kayden was found alive and safe. “I want to thank all these men and women who spent the last 20 something hours out here in the dark, the cold, and the rain,” he said on local TV. He got very emotional during the speech as well.
“We had the FBI, TBI, Blount County Sheriff’s Department, Blount County Fire Department, Blount County Rescue Squad. It was a team effort, and we couldn’t have done it without the help,” the sheriff said. However, someone also deserved this big thank you from the sheriff.
The Little Hero
Daniel Self, his deputy officer, helped Kayden’s dog Chula by providing her with food and water. He stayed with the dog and made sure she was doing okay. This beautiful dog was a guardian angel to Kayden the whole night and thanks to her the boy was safe.
A dog is a man’s best friend, and situations like these prove this statement. Chula stayed by Kayden’s side for the whole night and never left him there alone. She was protecting him as much as she could and if Chula weren’t there with Kayden when the team was searching for him, then perhaps they wouldn’t even find him.
On Top Of The World
Kayden’s community, The Top of the World, was feeling the same as its name, on top of the world that afternoon when Kayden was found. It was indeed a very stressful and emotional time for everyone in the community.
Nothing is scarier than a child going missing. Luckily, Kayden was growing up around caring, kind, and helpful people who helped in so many different ways. We are all beyond happy Kayden is safe and back with his family!