Lee County law enforcement honored for saving 3-year-old Harmon boy found freezing in ditch

DIXON – A 3-year-old Harmon boy is safe after going missing in 17-degree weather wearing only a diaper thanks to lifesaving efforts of first responders, Lee County Sheriff John Simonton said.

Simonton recognized those involved in a Dec. 22 incident during the Lee County Board meeting Thursday.

Around 12:56 a.m. that morning, the sheriff’s department received a call from a family member of the boy concerned he was missing.

Deputies responded, along with the Lee County Volunteer Corp Search and Rescue Team, Kevin Lalley, the Lee County Emergency Management Association director with a drone, Dixon Police Department K-9 unit and two Illinois State Police Troopers.

“The temperature was 17 degrees that morning and initial information was that the child was only wearing a diaper,” he said. “After an exhaustive search of the community, interviewing residents, areas of interest, the child was located, unclothed and laying in a ditch unresponsive.”

He was found around 2:27 a.m.

Deputies warmed the child, carried him to a nearby squad car and transported him to KSB Hospital before being taken to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.

“While enroute, the deputy holding the child had to perform CPR twice to revive him,” Simonton said. “Upon arrival at KSB, the child coded several times and had to be revived each time, prior to being stabilized and transported to St. Francis in Peoria.”

The Sheriff’s Office contacted the hospital the next day and found that the child was doing “remarkably well, considering what he had gone through.” They then purchased and presented Christmas presents to the child at St. Francis on Christmas Day.

“This was a great outcome for such a critical incident – one in which teamwork, efficient response, leadership and training were essential for success,” he said. “I am proud of our Sauk Valley area law enforcement officers, deputies, telecommunicators, first responders and hospital staff for their perseverance and dedication that morning. This child is alive because of their combined efforts.”

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.