Massive Search Party Leads To Return Of Missing Mayes Co. Child

Thursday, May 7th 2020, 10:18 pm
By: Kristen Weaver

A Mayes county family is relieved after worrying for 26 hours about their two-year-old boy who wandered into the woods near his home.

The toddler is home safe after volunteers found him Thursday afternoon.

Volunteers on horseback found the little boy Thursday afternoon safe more than 24 hours after he went missing.

It was an emotional ending to a tireless 26-hour search through a heavily wooded area near Salina.

Two-year-old Jesse Dale Young was finally returned to his family after spending the whole day and night alone in the woods.

"I was kind of excited," said Uncle Steve Smith. "I went up and grabbed him and we got him wrapped up and got him to bring him back to his family."

Smith said Jesse walked away from his home into the woods yesterday morning around 11 and wasn't spotted until around 1 p.m. Thursday.

"He's cold and shivering and he's got some scratches on his leg and that's about it," he said.

The search was massive with more than 300 people. Many volunteers and several local and federal agencies used dogs, ATVs, helicopters, drones and looked on foot.

Until finally a dad and his son on horseback found Jesse almost two miles from home.

Volunteer Shelby Vanover was in shock the moment she heard the good news.

"I was starting to lose hope. I was trying to keep it, but 26 hours. He's a two-year-old kid-- it was by the grace of God that baby came home safe," she said.

Mayes County Sheriff Mike Reed said the search was personal for his deputies-- many who have kids of their own.

"They have children and they're going to treat it just like it was their child that walked away," Reed said. "Who among us with a two-year-old child isn't going to give 110 percent?"

"It is a miracle," Smith said.

The sheriff's office said they can't begin to express their gratitude to everyone who helped get him home safe.