After well over 72 hours of search and rescue operations, three-year-old Jude Leyton has been located alive and well in South Frontenac Township.
“Well, I can say there are some very thrilled and excited people here, that’s for sure,” said Bill Dickson, Public Affairs officer with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) East Region, who oversaw the search and rescue operations.
“I have to admit, I was starting to get cynical. That’s what happens… you get jaded when you’ve done a lot of these, and a lot of us were fearful, but we never gave up!”
Dickson said the young boy was found in the wooded area by one of the search team members with the OPP’s team, and officers later explained that he was located 980 metres from where we had last been seen when he initially went missing on Sunday, Mar. 28, 2021. According to those on the ground following the rescue, the area where the child was located had already been searched. He was located by a member of the OPP Emergency Response Team as the area was be re-searched. According to police, it was his distinctive blue coat that helped in locating the toddler.
Dickson said that child was given some water immediately being located and that he seemed to be in good health. The toddler is now with Frontenac Paramedics and will be checked over by medical professionals immediately, Dickson said.
The search involved operations in the air, on the land, and on the water, as well as search dogs, helicopters, and drones. The Ontario Search and Rescue Volunteer Association (OSRVA) also offered assistance in the four-day search, which involved rainy conditions and rugged terrain.
Dickson said that despite some backlash from the public during the search, it was the moment they’re currently experiencing that was always the focus for the OPP team – and that it’s certainly all worth it to see him found. While it is regrettable that information about the search party being decreased and a dive team moving into recovery as opposed to a rescue was published online based on scanner chatter, having an ending to the search like this means all the worst fears area residents were feeling can be reassured, Dickson expressed.
“I can tell you, there are quite a few people who don’t have dry eyes,” he said when asked how he and the team were feeling just minutes after the rescue took place.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome,” he said.