CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Rescue crews found a missing 2-year-old girl on Wednesday in the woods between the Lake Shore neighborhood in Port Wentworth and Benton Boulevard and Highlands Boulevard in Savannah.
"By the grace of God, this child was located and she is fine, on the way to the hospital now to be checked out," Port Wentworth Police Chief Matt Libby said. "We notified the family. She was found leaning up against a tree crying out. Some minor scrapes, of course dehydration is probably going to be a concern, but she appears to be in good spirits and well."
State and local law enforcement agencies, including Savannah Police, Savannah Fire, Georgia State Patrol, Chatham County Marine Patrol, search and rescue teams from Chatham Emergency Management Agency and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division, and volunteers helped the Port Wentworth Police Department search 2-year-old Kamiyah Vicks Wednesday.
"It makes it easier when you work together," Libby said. "You can cover a lot more ground. We had a lot of people on the ground out here today doing searches, and that was helpful. Then, we brought the horses in. Every tool we were able to get, we got."
It was a team of Savannah Police recruits who found Kamiyah around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. Cadets Robert Parker, Luis Esquina, and Ernest Mobley say their team searched for about two hours before finding the toddler.
Their police body cameras captured the moment they found Kamiyah in the woods:
"It was a relief," Esquina, whose body camera captured that video, said. "It's a two-year-old baby, so I thank God every single day that he's able to bless us and help us to get to where we're at. I thank God he was there on our side today."
Cadet Robert Parker is the officer pulling Kamiyah from the brush and holding her in the video. He said the cadets were in a report writing class when their corporal told them they would help search for the missing child. He said he is grateful for his training leading to a life saved.
"My reaction is relief because these things don't always end up this way," Parker said. "The child screamed because she heard us, I'm sure. She'd been out there for quite a while, but, you know, open arms, ready to go. She was thirsty. She was tired and she was hot. So we got her the proper medical treatment and hopefully get her back reunited with her family."
They've all graduated from the Police Academy, but this is just the second week of their seven-week training with the Savannah Police Department.
Port Wentworth Police Major Lee Sherod said the department received a call about a missing child around 7 a.m. Wednesday. Sherrod said Kamiyah Vicks' mother, who police haven't identified, reported the toddler missing.
Kamiyah's mother lives Lake Shore neighborhood in Port Wentworth, which borders the Savannah city limits. Police said Kamiyah and her mother were last seen Tuesday around 5 p.m. on Benton Boulevard and Highlands Boulevard in Savannah. Her mother was pushing Kamiyah in a stroller.
Port Wentworth Police say the mother was seen in the Lake Shore neighborhood Wednesday morning around 7 a.m. without her child. Police say they first found her in distress in what appeared to be a crisis situation.
The mother was taken to a hospital, and Port Wentworth Police investigators interviewed her there.
Once rescue crews started searching for Kamiyah, they found her stroller knocked over and her mother's flip-flops near a neighborhood lake. This helped narrow the search area. Crews used boats to search the water and a helicopter.
Libby said the case is still under investigation. He said Wednesday officers do not yet know if the mother could face criminal charges or if the case would be handled by Division of Family and Children Services.