MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota toddler’s adventurous walk away from home turned into a full-on rescue mission after he went missing for hours.

The search unfolded in Stearns County. A State Patrol helicopter team found the 2-year-old, thanks to its infrared camera near a cornfield Thursday at around 9:15 p.m.

The Minnesota State Patrol has pilots up in the sky every day. Sometimes it’s for traffic reasons — other times to search for a suspect in a crime. But this call hit home for the pilots — all of whom are parents.

A cornfield in October can represent fun — the idea of getting lost in a maze. But that curiosity that lures kids into the stalks led to a truly scary situation in Stearns County.

“The immediate thought is we’re going to find this boy,” Minnesota State Patrol Chief Pilot Lt. Craig Benz said.

Investigators say a 2-year-old boy wandered into a field away from home. He was gone for hours. Ground searches with bloodhound dogs couldn’t find him, and darkness was falling.

“If you throw in any mist, any condensation, now you got a wet skin which just makes that body temperature drop and so it is an emergency situation,” Benz said.

The State Patrol’s aviation team was called in. Using their helicopter equipped with an infrared camera, they spotted two heat signatures between a cornfield and tree line.

“We were a little confused at the time but then noticed one was a dog and noticed that yup, the other one indeed did appear to be a little boy,” Benz said.

The pilot’s directed the ground team towards the boy. Once found, they appear to place a jacket on him.

“On an evening that’s 40 degrees, found him in a T-shirt and a diaper and the little boy was crying and said that he wanted to go home,” Benz said.

Returned safely to his parents with the help of several fathers dedicated to their jobs.

“And I can tell you that anyone of the pilots felt, especially these two that were up, they’d keep searching until they find him,” Benz said.

Outside of being cold — investigators say the boy wasn’t hurt at all. Investigators say he told them he was simply counting corn when they found him.


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