Connor Vinagl’s family got a happy ending Sunday after the two-year-old was found safe after wandering away from the family’s home.
According to the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department, Connor Vinagl woke up Sunday morning around 8:30 a.m. and was told to go back to bed by a family member.
Some time later the family got up and realized the boy — along with one of the family dogs — was missing. They looked in and around the house and could not find the boy. It was when the dog Vinagl had with him came back without the black shirt it was wearing, the family knew something was very wrong.
At 10:15 a.m., 42 firefighters from the Rolla Rural, Rolla City, Cuba, St. James, Vichy and Doolittle fire departments, along with members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Phelps County Sheriff’s Department and volunteers for the area started searching for the young boy in the area around Flag Springs Road.
Vinagl was found after the black shirt family says the dog was wearing when the two disappeared, was found on a fence near County Road 1050. The search intensified in that area. A short time later searchers in the area noticed some tall grass moving around. When Dale Goff, of Rolla, went over to investigate, he found the boy. He was about a mile away from his home.
News came over the radio at 11:39 a.m. that the boy had been found. About 10 minutes later, an ambulance delivered Connor to his family. He was a bit shaken up, but uninjured except for a few scratches.
That wasn’t the end of concern for the family. Connor Vinagl’s father, Johnny Vinagl, was still out in the woods, searching for his lost son. It took firefighters and volunteers about 20 minutes to get word to Johnny Vinagl that his son was safe.
“It’s amazing how many people respond when something like this happens,” said Phelps County Sheriff Rick Lisenbe moments after the news the boy had been found came over the radio. “You don’t even need to ask, people just show up.” Vinagl’s family was very grateful for searchers who came out to find their little boy.
“Thank you very much,” said Lisa Godbey, Connor Vinagl’s aunt. “This community is awesome. It amazes me how many people came out. They did an awesome job.”