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Toddler missing for three days found safe in woods

By Kelly Murray, CNN

A 3-year-old boy who vanished Wednesday afternoon near Magnolia, Texas, was found Saturday morning alive and well.

Christopher Ramírez was reunited with his mother.

“He was smiling, drinking water, and in good shape,” Grimes County Sheriff Don Sowell told reporters Saturday.

The toddler was taken to a hospital for observation, but Sheriff Sowell said they believe he will be fine.

The situation appeared much more dire a day earlier, when the child’s mother — Araceli Nuñez — urged people to come forward with information. “He needs his mom. Please help me!” she said in Spanish.

Gone in an instant

The boy had disappeared around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, moments after returning home from running errands with his mother and grandmother, CNN affiliate KPRC reported.

Ramírez had chased after a neighbor’s dog while the adults unloaded their car, Sheriff Sowell said.

The dog returned, but the boy did not, and the family started looking for him. After about 20 minutes, they called police, Sheriff Sowell said.

Police used four wheelers, dirt bikes, drones, helicopters, two teams of dogs and heat sensors — without luck, Sheriff Sowell said.

More than 100 volunteers and several other agencies aided in the nonstop search, KPRC reported. Deputies even drained at least one pond, according to CNN affiliates KTRK and KPRC.

Authorities said crews also searched vehicles in the area after they learned the boy was known to hide in cars, KTRK reported.

Finally, on Wednesday, a Good Samaritan located the child five miles from where he had gone missing, according to KPRC.

“Last night I was in a Bible study that we have every other Friday, and there were a number of people talking about this little boy that’s been lost, and it was news to me,” the man who found Ramírez said in an interview. “I was prompted then by the Spirit to say, ‘You will go look for that boy. You will search the woods.'”

The following morning, the man said he decided to go help in the search effort. Less than two hours later, he said he heard a noise. At first, he thought it was an animal.

Instead, it was the little boy that so many people had been searching for.

“Picked him up. He wasn’t shaking; he wasn’t nervous; he was calm,” the man said.

Sheriff Sowell acknowledged Saturday they are still not sure how the boy was able to survive on his own for three days in the rural, heavily wooded area between Houston and College Station.

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CNN’s Keith Allen, Cara Lynn Clarkson, Pamela Steffey and Nicole Williams also contributed to this story.

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