Without dozens of people and a well-coordinated effort, the search for 22-month-old Mason Rhinehart might not have had a happy ending.
Deputy Ron Fenlon, Chief of Cheboygan Countyâ??s Search and Rescue Team, said as the hours passed, the search for Mason became more challenging.
â??We saw his tracks he came up to an intersection in the sand and then we lost to tracks,â?? said Deputy Fenlon. â??There was four different points of entry off in the woods that he could have taken.â??
The thought of what could happen to Mason if he was still out when night fell put a lot of pressure on volunteers and rescue crews.
â??We knew that the child only had a T-shirt and a diaper on and it was going to start getting colder,â?? said Sheriff Dale Clarmont of the Cheboygan County Sheriffâ??s Department. â??There are more animals in the area that become active. And so, we were very concerned. And that's why we were really ramping up the rescue and search operations as time went on.â??
The search involved more than just crews in the field.
Sheriff Clarmont said the AMBER Alert, â??Child is Missing Program,â?? played an important role in finding Mason.
More than 1,000 AMBER Alert calls went out during the eight-hour search.
â??We had more and more people aware of the situation out there looking for the little guy and also coming and offering assistance,â?? said Sheriff Clarmont.
According to Clarmont, in past seven years the Cheboygan County Sheriff's Department use of â??A Child is Missing Programâ?? has directly attributed to finding three missing people.
Deputy Fenlon said even though they had helicopters, dogs, and specialized equipment to find Mason, it was the people that made it possible.
â??Never in the ten years that we've been doing this have I ever seen so many departments, so many volunteers, so much of the public, so much of the different organizations throughout this county coming together for one cause,â?? said Deputy Fenlon. â??And it was a happy ending. Thank goodness for that.â??