June 19, 2007
Cheers of joy as 2-year-old Matthew Hollis was found alive.
"It is a miracle he is still alive and here with us," said Louisa County Sheriff Ashland Fortune.
This miracle, his family had been praying for.
"We've been out there all night, and you know, thank God it worked out. Thank God," said Danny Birckhead, the boy's uncle.
Missing since yesterday, the toddler somehow managed to survive being outdoors all night by himself wearing nothing but a diaper.
"We knew as the day went on it was going to get worse and worse for everybody," said Major Donnie Lowe of the Louisa County Sheriff's Department.
Dozens of search and rescue teams from across Virginia searched by ground and air.
They searched 10 acres behind the boy's home on Cedar Creek Road in Louisa.
Young Hollis disappeared around 6 p.m. Monday in his backyard. His family says it just took a second before he wandered off into the woods, the same woods where he was found 18 hours later just about a quarter of a mile from home.
Just before noon came the break; a rescuer heard something. It was Matthew yelling his own name.
"Keep calling; we will come to you. Just stand where you are, and he did. He kept calling 'Matt Matt Matt Matt'," said Theresa Crossland of Tidewater Search and Rescue.
They found him diaperless, a little scratched up and a bit dehydrated, but for the most part, okay.
"An elation I cannot put into words," said Crossland.
Rescuers say he asked for his mommy, and within minutes, was reunited with his family.
"I feel great. It's a relief, and now we are going to go and make sure everything is all right," said Crossland.
Hollis was taken to UVa Medical Center for an evaluation. His family says they will be putting fencing in the backyard so that little Matt will not be able to wander off again.
The family believes Matt may have followed the family dog into the woods. They say the dog is still missing.