(PLANTERSVILLE, Texas) — When Tim Halfin learned during Bible study about a toddler missing in the thick woods of southeast Texas, he said God told him to go search for the child.
In an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Monday, Halfin said he can only credit “divine” intervention for leading him on Saturday to find 3-year-old Christopher Ramirez, who survived nearly four days alone in the woods of Grimes County, about 50 miles northwest of Houston.
“It’s a miracle,” Christopher’s mother, Araceli Nunez, said during a news conference Monday after bringing her son home from the hospital.
Nunez later met with Halfin and thanked him for finding her son.
“Words cannot describe how I felt when I held him for the first time,” Nunez said of being reunited with her boy, who she held in her arms as he played with a toy car. “It was incredible.”
After hearing of the child’s disappearance, Halfin said he went to the woods around 11:45 a.m. Saturday near his home in Plantersville. About 10 yards in he heard what sounded like a child’s whimper.
“I said, ‘Christopher is that you?'” Halfin said. “Then he speaks again and I’m like, ‘Whoa, praise God.'”
Halfin said Christopher was calm and healthy.
“I don’t know what to make of it. All I know is he was found safe,” Halfin said. “When I picked him up, he was still talking. He wasn’t shaking, he wasn’t nervous. The things I would expect. Maybe he just sensed, ‘I’ve been found.'”
Halfin said he picked up the boy, who had shed his clothes and was completely naked, and called 911. Sheriff’s deputies took Nunez to him.
Speaking in Spanish as a sheriff’s sergeant interpreted, Nunez said she held her child and told him that she loves him.
Before meeting with Nunez, Halfin was shown a photo of the smiling little boy after he was reunited with his mother. “That’s what it’s all about right there.”
“That’s what it’s all about right there,” Halfin said. “That’s why everybody was praying. That’s why God laid it on my heart to go look, to reunite that boy with his mom.”
Grimes County Sheriff Don Sowell said Halfin found Christopher about five miles from the child’s home, where he vanished after purportedly following a neighbor’s dog into the woods.
The boy was treated for dehydration and minor scratches on his face at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston before being sent home Monday afternoon.
“He ought to be the ultimate Army Ranger, Navy SEAL, Air Force when he wants to grow up. He’s already passed the first test,” said Sowell, who during the news conference presented Christopher with an honorary junior deputy badge.
Christopher vanished around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday in the two minutes Nunez said she was carrying groceries into her house from her car.
The Sheriff’s Office immediately organized a search party after a neighbor told them she saw the little boy follow a dog into the woods.
Using drones, aircraft, K-9 units and numerous volunteer searchers on foot, the rescue party combed the woods night and day, but turned up no sign of the child.
“They told me, ‘We didn’t feel like we could sleep because we knew he wasn’t sleeping and he wasn’t found,'” Halfin said of search-and-rescue volunteers and law enforcement officers.
“I think the story is do not give up hope,” Halfin said. “Even though things look bleak, there’s always tomorrow.”
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