Joe Garces says he channeled his inner child to find a toddler that wandered off from his great uncle’s ranch in Santa Paula and was lost for some 5 hours, tucked deep in oak and brush woodland. Patrick Healy reports from Santa Paula for the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. on Oct. 1, 2012.
A 4-year-old Palmdale boy who wandered away from a Santa Paula home has been found, police said Monday.
The child, Anthony Arellanes, was missing for five hours in the sweltering heat in oak and brush woodland north of Santa Paula. Temperatures in the area hit 101 degrees on Monday.
Emergency personnel searched throughout the day for Anthony, who was located at about 3:45 p.m.
Family members called to report the boy missing at about 10:40 a.m., Ventura County Sheriff’s Capt. Don Aguilar told NBC4. He had last been seen at a family residence on an area ranch.
A fire department searcher who found the boy said he was walking through a river bottom, calling out the boy's name, when Anthony responded immediately. The boy was hiding underneath some bushes, out of sight from helicopters, rescuer Joe Garces said.
"He was in the shade, dehydrated. He was very, very dry," Garces told reporters. "I slowly had him drink."
Garces said he tried to "think like a kid" as he searched the wooded area.
"We got down to the river bottom and I just kept following the path that I thought as a kid, what would I do," said Garces.
By the time the youngster was located, Garces said "he really wanted to be found."
The boy had come from Palmdale with his five siblings to visit a ranch where his great-uncle Gary Calhoun was living. When the children went out to play, Anthony wandered off.
Calhoun call 911 when the boy couldn't be found. Calhoun was clearly relieved when talking to media after Anthony had been rescued.
"I'm going to hug him; I'm going to kiss him," Calhoun said.
"I might even spank him," he added, laughing.
Anthony's mother accompanied her son in the ambulance on a precautionary trip to a local hospital.
More than 50 officers and others, including six teams equipped with search dogs, searched the scrubby terrain for the boy.