A four-year-old boy who had gone missing Saturday when he became separated from his mother while berry-picking has been found.
“He was wandering around in the bush in the Mackenzie area,” Cpl. Madonna Saunderson of the RCMP tells Global News. “RCMP Air 3 were in the air, spotted George, alerted a dog man on the ground who got George, and he has been reunited with his Mom and Dad.
WATCH: Missing boy found in Mackenzie, B.C.
“At this time, he’s being described as being safe and sound. I have no further information as to his condition, but again, he’s safe and sound and alive, and that’s the main thing.”
Speaking with the boy’s stepmother early Sunday evening, Global News has learned the boy was hungry and dehydrated but otherwise unharmed.
He has been taken to a local hospital for treatment.
RCMP and rescue crews from across the Prince George region mobilized south of Mackenzie to search for the four-year-old boy after they were notified just after 1 p.m. Saturday that the boy, named George, had gone missing half an hour earlier.
“There was close to 200 people, between volunteers and search and rescue, from all over the province that came to Mackenzie,” says Saunderson. “Conservation officers, fire department, B.C. Wildfire… they were all boots on the ground, searching for young George in a continuous search.”
Police had initially said the boy was with a parent, who was berry-picking in the Lions Lake area when he got separated.
The lake sits just south of Mackenzie, which lies roughly 180 kilometres north of Prince George.
George’s father Kristopher Benoit told Global News his son was with his mother and a friend, who were picking berries by the railroad tracks.
“He was asleep in the van, and when they went to go check on him, he was gone,” Benoit said. “That’s about all the information she has given me.”
Benoit, who has been George’s primary caregiver after separating from the boy’s mother, said his son doesn’t usually wander off.
“I’m lost,” he said. “Me and my girlfriend are both really lost right now… I didn’t think I could even feel like this.”
Benoit later clarified he wasn’t pointing fingers at George’s mother, saying: “This could happen to any family.”
Police and search and rescue teams from Mackenzie, Prince George, Fort St. John, Fort St. James and Chetwynd all joined the search for the boy, along with police dog services and air support.
Air support was later called off due to weather, with other units joining the search, including the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.
Crystal Lake, a family friend who helped search for George on Saturday night, had said more than 300 volunteers were waiting to help police.
“I’ve never seen so many people gather from our town for something like this,” she said. “This just doesn’t happen. Not in our town.”
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