Lane Hood is safe in his mother's arms after a 5-hour search. (photo courtesy of the Hood family)Volunteers lingering on the scene after the search for a 4-year-old boy. More than 300 people gave up their Memorial Day to search. (photo courtesy of Eleven Point Fire Department)Volunteers lingering on the scene after the search for a 4-year-old boy. More than 300 people gave up their Memorial Day to search. (photo courtesy of Eleven Point Fire Department)

Memorial Day Search has a Happy Ending

Hundreds of volunteers turned out to assist in the search for a 4-year-old boy who went missing from a family home on County Road 2030 near Mountain View on Memorial Day. According to Eleven Point Rural Fire Department Fire Chief Frank Vanhorn, his department received the call to begin the search for Lane Hood at 3:20 p.m. on May 25. The child had been missing for thirty or forty minutes. 
Vanhorn said he immediately called for assistance from Willow Springs Fire Department. 
“In a situation like this, you want as much help as you can get as fast as you can get it,” he said. 
In addition to the urgency that every search for a missing child inspires, Vanhorn and those who were searching that day faced the unique challenge of looking for a small child who is autisitic and nonverbal. Searchers did not call out his name because the child is not able to answer. The child’s special needs helped to provide some clues in the search, however. Vanhorn said family members shared that the boy likes to follow straight lines and will not climb fences. 
When Vanhorn and his personnel arrived on scene and realized the special circumstances as well as the vast amount of area to search, he requested back-up personnel from both Pomona and Mountain View Fire Departments. All in all, firefighters from Howell Rural Fire, West Plains City, and Pumpkin Center, and Moody Fire Departments arrived to help in the search. There were easily 85 firefighters on hand to begin the work of searching through approximately 200 acres of woods, lakes, and ponds. The teams only had about five hours of daylight to work with. 
As the day wore on, volunteers from the community showed up by the hundreds to look for Lane. About 20 law enforcement officers including the off-duty Willow Springs Police Chief, Bryan Hogan, Howell County Sheriff’s Deputies, and Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers helped in the search. Three K-9s, one belonging to Matt Foster of Willow Springs, and two from Region G’s search team based out of the Elk Creek/Houston area, tracked the child. A helicopter from Air Evac flew overhead for an hour, and a Missouri State Highway Patrol helicopter from Jefferson City searched from above until the end. Most impressive of all, more than 200 citizen volunteers on UTVS, 4-wheelers, horses, and on foot lent their aid.
Despite the massive amount of manpower, the search dragged on for hours. 
“I was getting worried because it was approaching dark. It was hot. I had guys getting tired,” Vanhorn said, “About 7:30, we got a call that somebody located some clothing that matched the description of the kid’s.”
The team with the K9s responded to the area where the clothing was found.
“Once we found his clothes, then they put a bloodhound on to see if they could track him up that way,” said Matt Foster.
In the end, Lane was found in a way Vanhorn described as “completely accidental.”
The clothing was found more than a mile from the house from which the boy went missing, and a 15-year-old cousin, Cole Hood, was taking part in the search nearby. According to Vanhorn, Cole excused himself to heed the call of nature. He went behind a pile of dead trees, and found Lane hiding underneath. It was approximately 8:05 p.m., and the child had been missing for more than five hours. 
The boy’s father, Maverick Hood, was the one to approach him. EMS checked Lane out at the scene, and he was sunburned and dehydrated but otherwise in good health. By 8:30, the child was back in his mother’s arms. Maverick Hood told Howell County News he wanted to “thank everyone for their help.” 
First responders cleared the scene by 9:00 p.m., and the number of volunteers with cars parked nearby was so great, traffic control on the gravel road was necessary to get everyone home safe. 
Vanhorn emphasized his gratitude to the hundreds of volunteers who gave up their holiday to help in the search. 
“I couldn’t be happier with the outcome,” he said.

Howell County News

110 W. Main St.,
Willow Springs, MO 65793

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