‘Just the power of God’ | Searchers react after finding missing Monroe Co. boy
A volunteer said God was the one who led them to Alijah.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A group of rescuers found the missing Tellico Plains 6-year-old boy at the center of an AMBER Alert cold and wet near a creek after nearly 19 hours of search efforts by hundreds of volunteers Friday.
According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Alijah Kensinger went missing shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon. Officials said Alijah went to play in the woods in the backyard with his dog. Soon after, his father noticed he was missing when his dog came back wet and without Alijah.
Over 75 volunteers and multiple law enforcement agencies, including Madisonville Police Department, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the United States Marshal Service, hit the ground at around 6 p.m. Thursday and searched all through the night. Officials said 2 THP helicopters and a TBI plane were also searching the air.
“It’s been pretty intense because we had to fight, fog, rain, 28-degree weather, temperatures, last night,” Monroe County Sheriff Tommy Jones said. “We were very concerned about him being in the creek or one of the lakes and the hypothermia kicking in.”
Stone Gray, a Sweetwater High School Math Teacher and Trenton Devity, a search volunteer, found Alijah near a creek about a mile from his house bundled up with his hood on against a tree.
“We walked, and we walked right up on him. So it was just the power of God that was all it was,” Gray said. “Trenton spotted him, and he said, ‘holy moly, there he is,’ and we ran and grabbed him. I threw my shirt on him and carried him out of the woods and put him another truck and it was just amazing.”
Gray said God was the one who led them to Alijah.
“I just thank God. He’s the one to give the credit to,” Gray said. “Wasn’t anything we had to do just walking through the woods.”
Alijah reportedly told Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Detective Jason Fillyew that he got lost after it became dark and couldn’t get home. He also said he saw the helicopters and tried to get their attention with to no prevail.
The overwhelming emotions were in the air after Alijah was found.
“Just overwhelming,” Detective Fillyew said. “You know, you don’t know whether to cry, laugh, jump up and down. It just gets ya, wails ya up.”
The parents were too overwhelmed to speak. However, Detective Fillyew said Alijah’s dad told him he was grateful through his tears.
“Fortunately, the outcome was the most positive outcome we could’ve hoped for,” Detective Fillyew said.
WVLT News asked Gray and Devity if they would help again if the opportunity presented itself. Both of them said absolutely, with no hesitation.
“Oh, it was, it was amazing. Couldn’t breathe. Heart’s just pounding out of your chest and it’s just awesome,” Gray said.
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