By NATHAN GREGORY
The search for a 2-year-old boy ended Monday morning when he was found dead in a pond in the Tomnolen area of Webster County.
Webster County EMA Director Jimmy McLemore said a Calhoun County search and rescue team located Kye Mitchell in a pond approximately a quarter of a mile from his family’s residence at 2 a.m. Monday morning.
The cause of death was not released Monday, and officials said the body will undergo an autopsy in Jackson.
McLemore said Mitchell wandered off from the residence’s front yard and was first reported missing at approximately 3:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
“That’s about the time the Tomnolen Volunteer Fire Department arrived on scene and initiated the search,” McLemore said. “The search was (also) conducted by members of the Webster County Search and Rescue Team and the Webster County Dive Team. They used a helicopter with the Mississippi Highway Patrol. The helicopter had thermal imaging cameras on board.”
TVFD Chief Seth Mitchell, who is a cousin of the deceased, was the incident commander and was on the scene during the entire search. He said there were more than 200 people who assisted with the search.
“We got the page at 3:57 p.m., and I was on scene at 3:59 p.m. I requested the county search and rescue team,” Seth Mitchell said. “Once they got there, we laid out a grid for them to search. They started walking through the woods, marking off what they had searched and made a thorough search of each area.”
He said one pond had already been drained, and the discovery was made when TVFD was initiating the draining of another pond.
Many area fire departments assisted with the search, including Eupora, Mathiston, Maben, Mantee, Walthall and Bell Fountain. Seth Mitchell said many local search teams also joined.
“Eupora Police Department lent us an officer. (Also searching were) Choctaw fire personnel, Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office, Choctaw Sheriff’s Office, Clay County volunteers, Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office and volunteers,” he said. “We had a Mississippi Highway Patrol helicopter; we had some Parchman police officers, a boat with sonar from Columbus in the ponds; we also had a dog team from Columbus ... the Parchman people also had search-and-rescue dogs. There were Montgomery (County) fire personnel, an ambulance from North Mississippi Medical Center in Eupora and Medstat out of Winona.”
Oktibbeha County Fire Services Coordinator Kirk Rosenhan said he sent volunteers from Maben Fire Department with thermal imagers to the scene.
“In mid-afternoon, a unit from Maben took their (all-terrain vehicles) to the Tomnolen area. Early (Monday) morning they put out another call for anybody over there to help with the search, so we dispatched additional personnel,” Rosenhan said.
Seth Mitchell said he is grateful to all the area fire departments and teams that assisted with the search.
“We want to thank everyone that came out and lent us their support. I want them to know how much we appreciate their help,” he said.
A representative from Webster County Sheriff’s office was unavailable for comment.