MONROE COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — While students and faculty were in class at Coker Creek Elementary school officers set up a staging area right outside the building to coordinate search efforts.
It was a long night for first responders and volunteers as they searched for 6-year-old Alijah Kensinger.
“We started about 6 o’clock yesterday evening,” said Detective Jason Fillyaw with Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
“Last night we probably had about 75 or more citizen volunteers show up to help us,” Monroe County Sheriff Tommy Jones said.
Stone Gray was one of those volunteers and said he decided to join the search because it was the right thing to do.
“I was just thinking about if it was mine, I’d want everybody in the world to be looking for him so I mean that’s why we were out here,” Gray said.
It was Gray and another volunteer that found Kensinger in a wooded area about a mile and a half to two miles away from his home.
“It was on a trail but it was kind of off the beaten trail a little bit along a creek,” Gray explained. “We walked and just walked right upon him. So it was just the power of God was all it was.”
It was an emotional moment for everyone.
Gray added, “It was amazing, I couldn’t breathe. Heart’s just beating out of your chest and it was just, it was awesome.”
Detective Fillyaw said, “when they said he was found alive and well there’s a huge sense of relief.”
Officers said when Kensinger was found, he was cold and wet but appeared to be uninjured.
“The creek actually runs behind the residents,” Sheriff Jones said. “There’s a small lake and a lot of swampy areas and apparently, he had to go through all of that to get to where he was located.”
Kensinger was taken to a local hospital for observation.
The community came together in a family’s time of need. Now all of them are breathing a huge sigh of relief.
“We have a great county and great citizens,” Sheriff Jones said. “They showed up, it was very organized, they followed directions that we had. Helped our full-time law enforcement.”
It was a roller coaster of emotions for the community but everyone said this was the best possible outcome.