Official search resumes for missing toddler in Magoffin County

Published: May. 13, 2019 at 4:42 AM EDT
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The official search for a missing toddler in Eastern Kentucky is back underway Tuesday after it was suspended Monday night.

Investigators are looking for 22-month-old Kenneth Howard. He went missing Sunday night.

Carter Conley leads the Magoffin County Rescue Squad. He told WKYT his team was contacted around 8:30 p.m. Conley said Kenneth went missing around 7:30 p.m. and that the family spent time looking for him before calling the police.

Crews scoured the Kenneth Combs Road area of Magoffin County, near Floyd County. They've suspended the search until they get more information from investigators.

“If I had a picture of it to show the area the dogs covered it would look like spaghetti strung all over," said Magoffin Co. Search and Rescue Chief Carter Conley.

There is a wooded hillside behind and around the boy's home at the end of a hollow. The search grid is a half-mile radius from the house.

Two helicopters were called out to the area along with several search dogs. The dogs went over the area several times in the 24-hours-plus since Kenneth first disappeared.

“I mean how far can a 22-month-old child get? So at this time, we’re just concentrating on this area," said Magoffin County Sheriff Carson Montgomery.

One challenge the teams face is the terrain. It's covered in trees and brush, and it's steep. Crews told WKYT they've had to use ropes to get down in a ravine. They also used a side-by-side and almost flipped at one point.

Some are even more concerned because of the cooler weather and rainy conditions that have occurred since his disappearance.

"It's gut-wrenching. It really is," emergency manager and family friend Robert Prater said. "As cool as it got last night and the rain, you start to worry about hypothermia."

Search and rescue leaders say they've exhausted all of their resources and have done everything they know to do until they get more information from investigators.

It's unclear what Kenneth's parents were doing when he went missing.

Volunteers are also responding to provide water and food for search teams.

“We always hope, we always pray, that a 22-month-old will be found safe," said Chief Conley. "We feel that God has led us today with everything we do, and so we hope that He’ll continue to do that as we go forward.”

It's unclear when the official search could resume. Leaders say it depends on when more information is released.