A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

‘True mountain boy,’ 22-months-old, missing since Mother’s Day in rugged E.Ky. terrain, is found alive

By Mark Maynard
Kentucky Today

HUEYSVILLE, Ky. (KT) – The 22-month-old boy who had been missing since the evening of Mother’s Day was found safe Wednesday afternoon after a frantic three days of searching.

Kenneth Howard, whose parents said toddler who walked away from his house four days ago, was found on a 50-foot cliff along Raccoon Road in Hueysville, according to Magoffin Rescue Squad Director Carter Conley. 

“We were guided by God’s hand and that’s how we found him today,” Conley said.

A rescue crew familiar with the area used a basket to get to Kenneth after locating him from his cries. After he was rescued, he said over and over: “Here all night. Here all night.”

Kenneth was missing for 66 hours from Sunday night until his rescue. 

He was found less than a mile from home on old mine property near the Floyd County/Magoffin County line over some extremely rugged terrain, Conley said.

Magoffin County Sheriff Carson Montgomery provided this photo of Kenneth Howard moments after his rescue to the Floyd County Chronicle and Times. It was posted on the newspaper’s Facebook page.

“It was 1,755 feet straight from the house to where they found him over terrain that I would not, even as a young man, even attempted. This child is a true Kentucky mountain boy.”

The toddler seemed to be doing fine other than being somewhat dehydrated. He was airlifted to the Cabell Huntington Hospital’s pediatric trauma center.

Conley was so thankful that this rescue had a happy ending.

“I have been on a lot and this was one of the few that has been successful,” he said. “It was all a team effort. We had those extra resources and had an experienced tracker who came in locally. He took a team out and just happened to hear him. It’s where they needed to be at the right time.”

Chris Hecker, the Kentucky Emergency Management director for the area, thanked the many rescue teams and volunteers that came out to help.

Hecker and Conley both said they considered making it a recovery instead of rescue but decided not to give up.

“That thought was out there but was never officially stated,” he said. “I have kids of my own, so it hits home.”

“We weren’t going to give up,” Conley said. “I saw the mother and dad and said, ‘We didn’t give up.’”

Magoffin County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the report that the toddler was found and safe with the following Facebook post:

“According to Captain Carter Conley of the Magoffin Co Rescue Squad, he is alive, he is being attended by medics for dehydration, but is in remarkably good condition. Thanks to all who prayed, searched and helped in any way!! This is the best news ever !!!”

Rescue workers used helicopters, drones with thermal cameras, K-9 search teams, off-road vehicles and individuals searching on foot. Kentucky State Police were called into the search on Monday.

Eight to 10 dog teams, 40 to 50 official departments and more than 300 individuals involved.

The toddler’s father had offered a $5,000 reward to anyone who found him. Kentucky State Police are investigating but are not suspecting foul play.

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