A sheriff involved in the search and rescue of a 3-year-old boy said the child is “mighty fortunate” to have been found safe after being lost alone in the woods for nearly 12 hours.
On August 26, around 7 p.m., 3-year-old Zachary Rutherford wandered off from his home as his mom worked on her car nearby. As WSFA reported, Zachary had followed his dog into the woods near his house as he played with a nerf gun. According to the Montgomery Adviser, Zachary’s mom said she was replacing a headlight in her car when her son was in view of her one second, then gone the next.
However, while the pup eventually returned home on his own, Zachary did not, which began an hours-long search for the little boy.
Thankfully, Zachary was found the following morning by one of his father’s good friends. As Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin told WSFA, Zachary was recovered about 680 yards from his home:
“There was some dense woods and vegetation out there, trees, grass and briers, weeds and everything. He was able to meander about 680 yards from the house. You’ve got a situation out there. I’m sure there are snakes. I know out there you have coyotes.”
Sheriff Franklin later told the Montgomery Adviser that the little boy was found with “some scratches and bruising,” but that he will be “OK.”
This video just brought tears in my eyes
Franklin said that Zachary was located just after they had suspended the search on August 27:
“We were very concerned after we suspended the search early Tuesday morning that we had not found him. It was decided to send everyone home and get back at it at first light. One of the teams found him right after sunup. He was asleep on the ground and they literally just walked up on him.”
A video shared on the “Cajun Navy 2016” Facebook page showed the emotional reunion between Zachary and his father, Justin.
Video shot by one of our Alabama Division guys Heith Ritter McCracken. Good job guys! We are thankful for every day men…
The video shows Justin quickly grabbing his son, pulling him in close and holding him tightly, as those around them start to clap. One individual in the background can be heard saying, “Outstanding. He’s alive and well.”
The man who found Zachary was Ben Ready. The day after Zachary was found, Justin took to his own Facebook page to thank Ready for being their “hero.”
Thank you Ben Ready. From finding hogs in the woods to finding my son. Your the hero and to know I walked right by him. Thank you man
“Thank you Ben Ready. From finding hogs in the woods to finding my son. [You’re] the hero and to know I walked right by him. Thank you, man.”
Justin also added that he’s still in shock over the whole thing:
“I just want to let everyone know how [thankful] I am that my [mini-me] is laying beside me it’s been one of the hardest longest days/night of my life. Just knowing that my whole world could [have] been taken from me in the blink of an eye. Really opened my eyes life is too short. Nobody is promised tomorrow. You don’t realize it until it happens to you. Anyone that knows me knows I’m [an] outdoorsman and Zachary follows my [footsteps]. Zachary is not only my son he’s my best friend. I’m still in shock about everything honestly. The point of this post is you never know when someone could be taken from you so I’m asking everyone [that] reads this to just say a little prayer for me and Zachary.”