Wednesday , September 29 2021

“Can’t Give Up”: The OPP officer tells of finding a miracle of a missing boy



“When I picked him up, he was hot. He was not shaking, but he was asking for water. That’s about all he said. He wanted water.”

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Ontario County Police Department. Scott McNamas tied a flag to a tree on Wednesday around 3:25 p.m. when he looked up and saw something blue.

“You don’t see blue in nature like that,” McNames said the next day.

So McNames and his team, made up of Constance. Greg Verny, Mike Bull and Peter Rigelsworth, ran over what turned out to be three-year-old Jude Walter Layton, who disappeared in southern Frontnac for about three and a half days.

McNames admitted that many representatives spoke out when they realized the child was alive.

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“The little guy raised his head and looked at us,” McNamas said. “We said, ‘Listen, buddy, we’re the police, we’re here to help you, do not be afraid.’ We made sure he was heated, gave him some water … and then we took him out. “

McNamas said his heart was pounding.

“You have no idea,” McNamas said. “I’ll be honest, the longer it takes (search), the less likely the positive outcome will be. So when that happened … again, there were a lot of words you didn’t mean to print … we were pretty excited.”

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Jude wandered from his family’s fishing site, Bing Retreat, on Sunday at about 11 p.m. For hundreds of days, hundreds of OPP and Ontario search and rescue volunteers took shifts, day and night, scanning the thick forests around it. The 200-acre resort on Canoe Lake Road, south of Fermo.

Search and rescue volunteers are seen Monday in the woods along Lake Canoe Road, as part of a search party searching for three-year-old Jude Walter Layton.  Photo by ELLIOT FERGUSON / The Whig-Standard
Search and rescue volunteers are seen Monday in the woods along Lake Canoe Road, as part of a search party searching for three-year-old Jude Walter Layton. Photo by ELLIOT FERGUSON / The Whig-Standard

McNamas has been with OPP for 25 years, 19 of them with the Emergency Response Unit. He was celebrating his birthday with his children and family when he received the call. So when the cake and presents were over, he set out for Lake Canoe Road.

McNamas said he does not know how much walking he has done in the next three days, but he knows some of his colleagues are putting up over 50km on their boots.

“The urgency of the search was very high,” McNamas said. “With the weather it was a young boy, although he was moderately dressed according to the conditions, but when you are dealing with a young boy who is likely to be scared, the urgency of the search is very high.

“We put all the available resources on it.”

In addition to members of the Emergency Response Unit from all over Eastern Ontario, members of the OPP Marine Search and Recovery Unit, a dog unit and two OPP helicopters were also brought in. The officers were joined by search and rescue volunteers trained by the OPP from the Rideau Ground team. And the Outaouais-Ottawa Volunteer Rescue Team.

By Tuesday, the realistic chance of a happy ending began to dwindle. McNames said he and his team remained positive by thinking about their own families.

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“We are all fathers,” McNamas said. “You can not find them if you are not looking, and you want the best possible result. It certainly looks bleak, no doubt, but you do not lose hope … you just can not give up.”

On Wednesday, search managers accidentally give McNames and his team a network east of the resort to look further. When he noticed Jude near the builder’s pool, the boy was lying on the ground, very quiet.

“He lay down on some grass, on his stomach, just lay down calmly, until Greg got up to him,” McNamas said. “When I picked him up, he was hot. He was not shaking, but he was asking for water. That’s about all he said. He wanted water.”

Jude Walter Layton, 3, is being returned to his family on Wednesday after only three and a half days in the South Frontank Forest.
Jude Walter Layton, 3, is being returned to his family on Wednesday after only three and a half days in the South Frontank Forest. Provided

To be careful, McNames said the cops would give him small sips of water, wait until he asked again and then give him more. McNames said Jude was more exhausted and confused than he was afraid.

While it was no surprise that Jude was tired after three and a half days alone in the woods, McNames said the three-foot-five-year-old also made the trip. The place where they found him is 982 meters away from the family retreat, but only during the Crow time.

“It’s rocky, it’s up and down, there are trails that lead there, but how long it stays on the trail I don’t know. It’s a few ways from a very faint trail,” McNames said. “There are swamps, there are lakes … you can not walk in a straight line from (the retreat). Who knows how much walking he did before he finally just lay down.

“It’s a rough terrain. It’s amazing where it was.”

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McNames took Jude all the way back to the retreat, where his parents met them before reaching the clearing around the lodges. When they hit the clearing, cheers and applause erupted.

McNames insisted that there could have been anyone who found Jude – they just got the right search network that day.

“It’s a team effort by everyone involved,” McNamas said. “When it comes together like this and there is a positive result, it’s quite happy. …”

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