New York State Trooper battling darkness finds missing toddler, she clutches onto him and refuses to let go

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A New York State Trooper is recalling the moment he rescued a missing 2-year-old girl.

“I still can’t get that out of my head, her turning over and looking at me and throwing her hands up in the air. I’ll never forget that,” New York State Trooper Brian Hotchkiss said.

“It was getting close to getting dark out and getting cold. We wanted to get the search done as soon as we could,” Ontario County Sheriff Kevin Henderson said.

Additional assistance, which included Hotchkiss, was called in to help locate the 2-year-old girl.

“These missing kids, it can go really bad. It’s time sensitive depending on the time of year, so although it was a nice day the temperature was dropping,” he said.

The search
Immediately Hotchkiss began knocking on neighbors’ doors to see if the little girl had wandered over to someone else’s home, but he and other officials had no luck.

But then he and two other troopers decided they needed to expand the search perimeter and climb Bristol Mountain, which was only a half mile from the girl’s home.

“I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I didn’t check. I kept climbing and climbing after about 45 minutes of the climb, I looked up to the summit of the mountain and all I could see were trees and dirt,” he said.

When he reached the top he spotted something in the trees, something that did not belong.

“My heart just dropped. I was so excited. She hugged me immediately and wouldn’t let go. We’re very thankful for it.”

Hotchkiss found her just in time as there were only about 30 minutes of sunlight left in the day.

“I’ve seen these go really bad. We weren’t giving up. We were fearing the worst was going to happen. Her turning and looking at me, throwing her hands up in the air, that’s something I’ll never forget,” he said.

I’m so happy this had a happy ending because it easily could have turned into something with a horrible ending.

Thank you Trooper Hotchkiss for your persistence.

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