A four-year-old boy who went missing in the bush near Mackenzie, B.C., about 180 kilometres north of Prince George on Saturday has been found safe.
The child, George Hazard-Benoit, had been berry picking with his mother and her friend at Lions Lake, and was napping in the family van 10 metres from the two adults when he disappeared around 12:30 p.m. PT on Saturday.
With the daunting prospect that the little boy would spend a second night lost and alone in the wilderness, he was found just before 7 p.m. on Sunday, wet and cold but otherwise uninjured.
“George has been found Safe and Sound!!!! Thanks Everyone!!!!” a Facebook message from MacKenzie Search and Rescue posted at 8:37 p.m. reads.
RCMP say that at approximately 6:43 PM, Air 3, the RCMP helicopter, spotted George and guided the a search team to him.
“The helicopter landed and flew George to the hospital, where he was reunited with his Mom and Dad. He was reported to be a little dehydrated and hungry, but otherwise in good health following his time spent in the woods.”
Several teams, including ones from Prince George and Mackenzie, scoured the heavily wooded area by the lake all day Sunday.
Conservation officers and RCMP aircraft also helped in the search, which was hindered by heavy rain overnight and into Sunday.
Tamara Wiese was among the family friends who spent the day searching for the young boy.
“He’s safe, he’s safe, he’s safe,” she said, tearing up over the phone minutes after he’d been found and whisked away to hospital.
Wiese said he was found near a lake in the hour that the rain briefly let up.
She said the mood at the command post was “relief, pure relief.”
“We clapped, we watched the ambulance leave, everyone was cheering for them,” she said.
Wiese said she’s not yet sure who exactly found George, but thanked everyone who helped spread the word, speaking over the din of volunteers cheering as they cleared up the makeshift camp.
“Thank you again so much everybody, all the prayers and love was felt and it’s a great ending to a terrible situation,” she said.
With files from CBC