Jude’s rescue after three-and-half-day ordeal a real Easter miracle

Miracle is a word that tends be overused to the point of losing all meaning.

When talking about the rescue of Jude Leyton, miracle couldn’t be more appropriate. The fact the three-year-old was found alive and well after three-and-a-half days alone in the South Frontenac wilderness is nothing short of miraculous.

Each passing day brought with it more pessimism of witnessing a happy ending. The odds of a toddler surviving one night in below freezing temperatures are long and every hour only amplified those concerns. All too many times in this business the dreaded OPP press release shows up in the inbox delivering heart-breaking news. Fortunately, it never arrived in this instance. Rather it was just the opposite as instead a feeling of elation was felt when the OPP tweeted- “#GOODNEWS!!! A missing 3 yr old boy in S Frontenac has been found ALIVE AND WELL. Found by #OPP Emergency Response Team member moments ago. In good condition but will be checked out by paramedics.”

Great news like that is always welcome, but given the last year we’ve all had, this one was just a bit more special.

The initial missing child report hit home harder for this reporter than it would have say, four years ago. While no one wants to hear of a missing child, it’s a whole different feeling when you’ve got one of your own at home. The fact that it happened in a neighbouring county is all the more chilling, though the terrifying truth is it could happen anywhere. It makes it that much more relatable to put one in the shoes of the parents-though truth be told it’s still tough to imagine what went through their minds during those traumatic 72 plus hours.

The age of social media certainly didn’t help. It didn’t take long for keyboard experts to weigh in, offering their thoughts on who should shoulder the blame for the fact the child was missing. All of this happening in real-time while the family was trying to deal with an untold trauma. Unfortunately freedom of speech tends to trump common decency all too often.

And then came the second-guessing of the efforts of the police officers searching all hours of the day and night. Some even took to disobeying requests from the police to let the trained professionals do their job and attempted to help. Their intentions may have been good, but the result was cars blocking emergency vehicles from getting where they needed to be, more footprints created and distractions from K-9 units attempting to track a scent.

In the end, the dedication of the police paid off and the harrowing photo of OPP Cst. Scott McNames carrying young Jude out of the forest is simply incredible. He was later quoted as saying Wednesday was “the best day I’ve had in the OPP in 25 years.” It’s not hard to believe it. It’s fair to say for those of us following along, with no involvement whatsoever other than offering hope, felt untold joy when the good news broke.

For all the negativity in the world, it was nice for a few hours anyway to forget all that and celebrate a miracle.

Adam Prudhomme

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