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Toddler gives family a fright after wandering into woods

NORTH CREEK -- Barefoot and bearing a few scratches, 3-year-old Everett Parker stood by a brook recently. But fundamentally, he was no worse for wear. It was 12:48 p.m. and he had been alone in the woods for nearly three hours. His father Todd Parker talked this week about the ordeal the family had endured.

"Everett knows of the snowmobile trails behind the house," said Parker. "He made a direct route through the woods on them."

This past Mother's Day, Everett wandered off into a densely-wooded area behind his family's home, sparking a frantic three-hour search through woods and water.

"We realized he was gone and we started running through the woods yelling his name," his mother Lee Ann Parker said. "I felt a little better when I realized that our dog Grady was missing too."

Everett is the youngest of the Parker's children, and though only a toddler, very familiar with the many swamps, streams and trails behind the Peaceful Valley Road home, she said.

Within minutes, Lee Ann called 911 as Todd circled the wooded parcel on his four-wheeler.

"The first county sheriff arrived in just a few minutes," she said. "As many as three police cars and four DEC vehicles were here within 20 minutes and they immediately started coordinating a search."

The first officer on the scene was Warren County Sheriff's Officer George Carpenter. Officer Scott Phillips arrived not long after.

"They came in the house and took out maps as they started to set up search grids of the area," she said. "The effort of the local enforcement agencies was amazing - it really makes you appreciate what they do."

Over 40 local residents, friends and relatives joined the search, tromping through dense forest, blanketing the area.

"The water is what really concerned me," she said. "The creek was pretty high and their is a swamp back there too."

For his parents, the feelings surrounding their son's absence were almost indigestible.

"It was like a nightmare," Lee Ann Parker said. "Nothing seemed real as we both struggled to keep our sanity."

With search dogs on the way and even more volunteers assembling at the North Creek Firehouse, a relative found him, throwing sticks into North Creek.

"Our cousin Evan Richards found him," Lee Ann Parker said. "A day hasn't gone by since that I don't think about it - it was the worst and best Mother's Day ever."

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