The search is on for a missing toddler who vanished from his home in a wooded area of Eastern Kentucky, officials said.
Kenneth Howard was reported missing Sunday evening by his family, who called for help about an hour after realizing the 22-month-old child was nowhere to be found, authorities said.
The family spent time looking for Kenneth before calling the police, Magoffin County Search and Rescue Chief Carter Conley told WKYT-TV. Relatives said they believe he may have walked out the back door of his home, WYMT-TV reported.
Emergency responders and volunteers immediately set out to search the area around the family’s home, combing through the dense and steep wooded hillside behind and around the house for any signs of Kenneth.
“If I had a picture of it to show of the area the dogs covered it would look like spaghetti strung all over," Conley told WKYT-TV.
Searchers used helicopters and dogs to scour the area in the immediate hours after Kenneth’s disappearance was reported, while those on foot relied on rope to help navigate the rough terrain.
At one point, an ATV being used in the search nearly flipped over, members of the crew told WKYT-TV.
Authorities suspended the official search for the little boy Monday while they reportedly waited for more information from investigators.
By Tuesday, the search was back on, and on Wednesday, Kentucky State Police brought in horses to continue their work in looking for Kenneth. Officials also called on volunteers to help in the search.
“[There] is no limit to the effort being made to find this sweet child,” the Magoffin County Sheriff's Department said Monday. “There is no greater tragedy than not knowing the whereabouts of a child and we will continue to do everything humanly possible to ensure he is found safe and sound and returned home to his family.”
It was not immediately clear what Kenneth’s parents were doing at the time he disappeared. The little boy’s mother was reportedly hospitalized Tuesday to be treated for dehydration and was back home Wednesday.
"She's in pretty bad shape ... she's tore all to pieces,” Kenneth’s father, Elden Howard, said of his wife to WYMT-TV. “It's just not knowing what to do. We've searched everywhere we can think of, they've had dog teams in here, nothing's showing up."
Howard has offered a $5,000 reward for anyone who brings his son home, saying he believes his child may be with someone and that he’ll ask no questions if his little boy is returned safe.
“It's just like he disappeared. No sign, no nothing,” Howard said. “That's the reason I'm started to think, if we can't find him, somebody's picked him up."
Anyone with information about Kenneth or his whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff's office at 606-349-2914 or Magoffin County Dispatch at 606-349-4403.