A family camping trip over Memorial Day weekend quickly turned into a nightmare when 3-year-old Ezra Parrish wandered away from his father and siblings in Sam Houston National Forest in Texas. According to police, Ezra’s family was setting up camp when the boy disappeared into the thickly-wooded forest.
Ezra’s mother, Gloria Cooper, was in Houston with her husband, Jeremy Cooper, when she received the news that Ezra had been missing for hours. Terror must have gripped her heart as the Cooper’s hurried to the camping area and tried to focus on finding her son.
Family members flew in from out of state to join their anxious relatives in the hunt. Search and rescue teams worked through the night and into the next day, knowing Ezra’s chances of survival were growing slim with each passing hour.
According to reports from My San Antonio, the search took a hopeful turn for the better when a dog picked up Ezra’s scent. The 200-man search and rescue effort came to a conclusion about a mile away from where the boy was initially lost.
It was Ezra’s 21-year-old cousin, Lalaine Dungca, who finally discovered the little boy, hiding in a thorn bush. Senses heightened, Dungca heard a faint noise coming from the brush after she’d been repeatedly calling Ezra’s name.
“He was quiet, standing in a thorn bush holding a shoe,” Dungca recalled. “Then he got emotional when we got to him.”
They held his scared little body close, the crippling worry vanished, replaced with a flood of relief. “It was very emotional for us too,” Dungca expressed.
Search and rescue teams were elated that Ezra was found alive, and aside from a few scratches and dehydration, was unharmed. Ezra boarded a four-wheeler for his triumphant entrance back into the civilized world.
“A large contingent of people came down and he came back on a four wheeler and he was waving, so surprised — like, ‘what are you doing here?’” said Micahel Hughes, a volunteer with Texas EquuSearch. “It was an emotional moment for everyone.”
Ezra’s stepfather, Jeremy Cooper, embraced the little survivor and got the details from his night alone in the woods. Ezra admitted he had been scared, but was able to fall asleep in the grass.
“We were hoping for the best and expecting the worst,” said Tim Miller, founder of Texas EquuSearch. “I’m speechless right now.”
“A great day, a great effort,” said Jimmy Williams, spokesman for the New Waverly Fire Department. “We appreciate everyone’s support.”
For a family on the verge of being torn apart, there were no words to express their deep relief and gratitude. “The happiest day of my life,” Cooper expressed, and one camping trip that this family will never forget.
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