Mother of Tellico Plains boy at center of last week’s AMBER Alert thanks rescuers
The mother of Alijah Kensinger, the Tellico Plains boy at the center of last week’s AMBER Alert, spoke to WVLT News about the moment Alijah went missing and her message to the people who found him.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A missing 6-year-old boy at the center of an AMBER Alert, Alijah Kensinger, was found safe Friday morning after almost 19 hours of search efforts in Monroe County, according to the Incident Commander Jason Fillyaw.
“This is the best outcome we could’ve prayed for,” Fillyaw said. According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Alijah Kensinger went missing shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
Alijah’s mother, Amber Kensinger, told WVLT News that she had talked to her children about what to do if this ever happens.
“If you get lost, don’t move and we will find you,” she told Alijah.
Over 100 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 two Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopters and a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation plane were also searching the air.
“I cried on the floor for about two or three hours,” Amber said, remembering the moments she found out he was missing. “He just got a little too brave and a little too adventurous.”
She said that Alijah was at his grandmother’s house and asked to go outside with the dog after he finished his homework. There was no concern for him playing in the yard because their dog is very protective, according to Amber.
“He had our family dog with him and that’s why he was brave and ventured outside of the yard when he normally wouldn’t have,” she said. “And then the dog was with him for about an hour from what we can gather and then the dog is pretty independent so he realized it was getting dusk so he headed back to the house faster than Alijah could follow.”
She said he wouldn’t talk about what happened for a few days but when he did, Alijah told his mother that he couldn’t sleep while he was in the woods.
“I tried to sleep mommy but I couldn’t sleep,” Alijah told his mom.
Amber wasn’t surprised he couldn’t sleep.
“The helicopters were out all night doing their job so it didn’t surprise me at all he wasn’t able to sleep,” she said. “If it weren’t for them he could still be out in the woods.”
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.”
Alijah reportedly asked the volunteer, “Where’s my daddy?”
WVLT News spoke to Monroe County Sheriff Tommy Jones, who said responders left Alijah safe with his parents. He was also able to confirm that the Department of Child Services was not involved in this case.
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