BECKER, MN ( WCCO ) — A 6-year-old boy is safe thanks to a massive search effort overnight that ended after a drone with a thermal camera spotted the child and his dog in a cornfield north of the Twin Cities.
The Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office says Ethan Haus was found around 2 a.m. Wednesday in a field not far from his home in Palmer Township, Minnesota. He disappeared late Tuesday afternoon and was missing for nearly 10 hours before being found.
Ethan was brought to a hospital early Wednesday morning. Authorities say he was cold overnight, when temperatures were in the low 40s, but otherwise OK.
Sheri Haus, Ethan’s mother, describes her boy as “fun.” She says Ethan and their family dog, Remington, are nearly inseparable.
“They’re just buddies. He’s his best buddy. They’re just like that,” Sheri Haus said.
And just like that, Ethan and Remington did what they’ve never done before — playing all the way into an unfamiliar part of the neighborhood.
“(It was) a little bit (scary)” Ethan said.
It was, at the very least, cold and dark when the sun set in Clear Lake on Tuesday night. All the more motivation to get to work, into Wednesday morning.
“We never thought so many people would come. We asked for help, and people came from all over,” Haus said.
Some 600 volunteers turned out to help search for Ethan, who went missing just after 4 p.m. after getting off his school bus and running off to play with his dog. After Ethan’s family couldn’t find him, the call for help was issued.
One of those volunteers, Steve Fines, who owns the drone imaging company Fines Imaging, brought a drone with a thermal camera. The device spotted Ethan and the family dog in a field east of the family’s home that had already been searched by volunteers. Fines said he had never used a drone in a search operation before.
“I couldn’t go to bed knowing that I hadn’t done something,” Fines said. “(Searchers) were not walking to the site, they were running, you know. You could hear them breathing heavily and crashing through bush and through the cornfields and everything, and then there was a lot of yelling.”
And then a lot of thanking, from the volunteers who showed up, to the dog who stayed with his best buddy.
“It was a moment that was going to make his parents so happy, and vicariously we all felt that,” Fines said.
The county sheriff thanked all the volunteers and law enforcement agencies that responded to the search for Ethan.
“This truly was the epitome of a community caring for its own,” Sheriff Joel Brott said in a statement. “To see the outpouring of support in such a short time period to come out and help find this boy and his dog is heartwarming.”