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A happy ending for a lost child

By Staff | Nov 9, 2009

The happy Johnson family smiles for the camera. From left, grandpa Greg, dad Jay, mom Jennifer, and Aidan, showing off his bare feet.

It is every parent’s nightmare. A missing child, with no idea as to their whereabouts.

In this case, luckily, the story has a happy ending.

Jay and Jennifer Johnson of rural Blue Earth discovered their 3-year-old son, Aidan, was missing on Sunday morning, Nov. 1.

Their frantic 911 call to the Faribault County Sheriff’s office was answered by a whole host of emergency personnel. It included the Blue Earth Fire, Police and Ambulance, Winnebago Fire Department, Delavan Fire and First Responders.

Even the Minnesota State Patrol helicopter, Fairmont Police K-9 unit and Martin County Reserve Posse were on their way to help.

But before the search got totally underway, the lost boy’s grandfather, Greg Johnson, found him in a cornfield and carried him back to the farm house and his mother’s waiting arms.

“It turns out he was following the neighbor’s cat,” Greg Johnson says.

Sometime after 6 a.m. the young boy got up and left the house. He had been playing with some cats during the previous day, and wanted to play some more.

“I think he followed the neighbor’s cat into the cornfield, and just kept on going,” Johnson saysabout his grandson. “I just walked in between two cornfields, about a mile from the house, and kept calling his name.”

Eventually, the boy called back. He told his grandpa, “I found the cat.”

“He wasn’t crying or anything,” Johnson says. “He wasn’t hurt, and wasn’t even that cold, considering he wasn’t wearing a coat and barefoot.”

The boy did get taken to United Hospital in Blue Earth and was checked out and released.

Johnson found his grandson just before 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. He wasn’t sure how long the boy had been in the field, but it was all morning long, for sure.

Jay Johnson says he checked on all three of his boys at 6 a.m. and they were all in bed.

“They were all pretty tired from being out trick-or-treating the night before,” he says. “They were all up pretty late on Saturday night.”

But at 9:30 Sunday morning Johnson became concerned when the youngest boy wasn’t up yet. Then the concern became panic when he found Aidan’s bed empty, and the kitchen door open.

“It had been dead-bolted shut,” he says. “Somehow Aidan got it unlocked. Even my wife and older boys have trouble unlocking it – it sticks and must be like 100-years-old.”

Johnson and his wife did a quick search of the house and yard, but couldn’t find their youngest son. They spent an hour looking all over for him, then decided to call 911 and get some help.

“Within a half hour we had like 60 people here,” Johnson says. “It was amazing, we are so grateful for everyone who dropped their own chores and rushed here to help.”

Jay Johnson had to alert his neighbor to not combine any fields because Aidan might be in one of them.

In the end, it was one of the neighbor’s fields that the boy was in, about half-way between both sides of the field, Greg Johnson says.

“I grew up on this farm,” he says. “It is our old home place, so I know every foot of it, and was a kid here myself.”

Johnson says he walked around one cornfield, and almost didn’t continue on to the next one, thinking his grandson wouldn’t have gone that far. But he did continue on and kept calling out.

“When I found him I hoisted him up on my shoulders and carried him home, over a mile away,” Johnson says. “I was pretty excited and happy. And I was a pretty tired out grandpa on Sunday night.”