PENSACOLA, Fla. — In less than half an hour, a couple of bloodhounds belonging to a Florida sheriff’s office found a missing 3-year-old boy with autism who had wandered alone into the thick woods of the Panhandle on Sunday.
Audra Hughes said her mother was watching her son Aedric and was in the bathroom when the boy apparently managed to unlock the deadbolt to the front door and “went for a little adventure,” she said.
Hughes said her neighbors in the Pensacola suburb of Pace were searching their own properties and others to find Aedric.
“The most terrifying words a mother can get on the phone is ‘your child is missing, get home right now,'” Hughes said at a Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office news conference Monday morning.
“And then a couple hours later, the best news I’ve ever heard in my life. ‘We found your kid.'”
Aedric was gone for about two hours when sheriff’s deputies dropped off police dogs Copper and Zinc to search for him.
Johnson said it took them 28 minutes to find the 3-year-old in a muddy, briar-choked section of the woods about 200 yards from a neighbor’s house.
Deputies said they needed machetes to get to him.
“A year ago we got some bloodhounds, and (Sunday) they paid off with dividends,” Sheriff Bob Johnson said. “All they do is track people and they are really, really good at it.”
Aedric was found healthy aside from possibly a couple scratches and bug bites.
During the news conference, Johnson even gave the boy a present — a giant stuffed animal wearing a sheriff’s office T-shirt.
“I’m very grateful for the team,” Hughes said. “Words can’t express the excitement and gratitude I have.”