3-year old safe & sound

By Lindsey Gordon , Betty Simpson | bsimpson@wcia.com

Published 08/07 2014 02:53PM

Updated 08/08 2014 01:43PM

Latest: 10:00 pm
ALTAMONT – A family in Effingham County is breathing a sigh of relief. After several hours missing, their little girl is found safe. She vanished from the family property in rural Altamont in a cornfield.

Authorities say she was missing for nearly three hours. When she was found, she was tired and hungry. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.

"The children play outside and, at this point, the child, undetected slipped away and it can happen to anybody in a rural area," said Jon Beckman, chief of Altamont Fire.

It was after noon when authorities got a call 3-year old Alexia Followell was missing. Her family feared the worst.

"We were afraid that somebody had picked her up and had ran off with her," said Jeremy Followell, Alexia’s uncle.

Responders on scene ruled out foul play and, when they knew she wasn’t in any of the buildings, the search spread into the surrounding cornfields.

"It was standing corn. The main problem you have is visibility, very limited visibility. Humidity, because the corn produces heat within the plants, so walking through corn can be very rough on responders and for the victim, that's why time is of the essence," said Becker.

He says they had nearly 150 people helping. Some of them had volunteered a year ago when 7-year old Willow Long went missing. While she was found dead, this search ended differently.

"I was very, very happy that it came to a happy conclusion," said Becker, who was part of the search for Long.

He says two firemen heard Alexia cry and found her.

"They found her sitting in the cornfield, unharmed, but upset and tired," he said.

She was found east of her grandparent’s home; about a quarter-mile away. Paramedics checked her out before she was reunited with her family. Her uncle says the first thing she told them was that she was hungry. The family was emotional, but relieved.

"The turnout from the community, it was wonderful and we just want to thank everyone that showed up to help. We're just glad she's safe," said Followell.

Becker says they had more than ten different agencies helping. It's the second missing persons case this week. Sunday, an elderly woman went missing from the county fair. She was also found safe.
Latest: 4:57 pm
EFFINGHAM COUNTY -- A 3-year old girl is safe and sound. The sheriff's department responded to a call about a missing child around noon. Alexia Followell was last seen by a cornfield near her home in Beecher City.

More than 120 volunteers showed up to look for her. Two volunteer firefighters found her three hours later a couple hundred yards away from her home. They were walking the corn row when they heard her crying.
Update: 3:40 pm
EFFINGHAM COUNTY -- Authorities say the missing 3-year old girl has been located. She is reportedly safe at home. We'll update this story as soon as more information is released.
Original: 2:53 pm
EFFINGHAM COUNTY -- Authorities are searching for a missing 3-year old girl in the northwestern part of the county. Foul play is not suspected. Alexia Followell was last seen near her home north of Altamont.

Alexia is blonde and was last seen wearing a green-and-white striped shirt and blue jeans. Officials say there is no need for more volunteers at this time.

We'll update this story as more information becomes available.

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