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Mo. 3-year-old missing for 2 days found alive

/ Source: The Associated Press

A 3-year-old boy was found in rugged Missouri woods Wednesday afternoon, 50 hours since he wandered away from his rural home three miles away, authorities said.

A search volunteer found Joshua Childers in a hollow, or dry creek bottom, in rugged national forest land, Madison County Sheriff David Lewis said.

He was in fair condition based on an initial assessment at a hospital, Iron County Hospital CEO Ed Gast said.

Spotty rains hit the area while the boy was gone, and temperatures dipped as low as 48 on Tuesday morning but rose into the 70s Wednesday. More information wasn't immediately available on his condition or the circumstances of how he was found.

"The parents would like to thank everyone who has assisted in the search and treatment of Joshua and they ask that their privacy be protected at this time," Gast said.

Joshua slipped out of his house before noon Monday, wearing a T-shirt, sneakers and a pull-up diaper. His parents searched about 45 minutes before calling police, setting off a massive search by authorities and volunteers.

"Today we brought in professional rescue people," he said. "We tried to cover everything again and widened the scope."

They searched by land grids and water, with dogs, divers and sonar equipment. Rain and cool temperatures worsened search conditions.

Lewis described the Mark Twain National Forest as "really rough country," consisting of steep ravines, creeks and rugged rocks.

"I'm so happy, you can't believe it," Lewis said. "I'm going to go home and take a shower and go to bed."

Rick Stockham, a neighbor of Joshua's grandmother, told KSDK-TV in St. Louis that the woman had been "begging God to see that little boy alive one more time.

"She got her wish," he said.

Joshua's father works an overnight shift and was home sleeping late Monday morning. His mother was watching the child but was briefly distracted. That's when the boy wandered away from the home near the small town of Arcadia, about 100 miles southwest of St. Louis.