Watch: Heartwarming moment Ohio deputies reunite missing toddler with his family
The boy's parents said they were shocked at how much ground their son covered, estimating he traveled about a mile with a good portion of that in a creek
By Sarah Roebuck
XENIA, Ohio — The touching moment a missing 3-year-old reunited with his loved ones after he was reported missing was caught on camera.
On July 20, Ilya Dunin was reported missing after a caretaker lost sight of him and he wandered into a nearby cornfield, USA Today reports. Although the child went missing from his own fenced backyard, cornfields in the area ranging from seven to 10 feet tall made it difficult to search for him, the Greene County Sheriff's Office said.
Due to the high corn stalks and the vast amount of land with thick brush, a creek and two high-speed roads nearby, parents Bella and Leo Dunin called for help as soon as they were told of their child's absence.
The Greene County Sheriff's Office, along with the fire department, responded to help look for the child. Once deputies saw how large the search area was, they called for further assistance.
The search crew had grown from multiple departments to volunteers, including neighbors, friends and other community members, consisting of 75 to 100 people searching the area for the boy.
The sheriff's office said drones were deployed and Ohio State Highway Patrol was contacted to provide ariel support. The Ohio State Highway Patrol Aviation Unit arrived above the scene, scanning the area for the boy.
A volunteer spotted the first sign of Ilya — his shoes were beside a creek that cuts through the fields.
Law enforcement used K-9s to continue the search along the waterway and continued to talk with troopers in the air. After about two hours of searching, the boy was spotted exiting the cornfields and walking into a soybean field close by.
In the video from the helicopter, Ilya can be seen pushing his way through the field, while the pilot radios to officers on the ground that the boy had been spotted.
The video shows a teenager, identified by the boy's mother as a neighbor, picking Ilya up and comforting him. A man in a gray T-shirt, identified as the farmer who owns and tends the crops, then gives the pilot a thumbs up to confirm the boy was safe.
“The young boy had covered a lot of ground in that cornfield and at one point had crossed a 55 mph road,” Sheriff Scott Anger told USA Today. “So, he made quite a trip through the corn then back over the road and under a bridge.”
Ilya's parents said they were shocked at how much ground their son covered, estimating he traveled about a mile with a good portion of that in a creek.
The boy was found by 7:30 p.m. and the search wrapped up around 8:15 p.m., just before nightfall.