When NY state trooper Brian Hotchkiss received a missing child report from South Bristol, he prepared for the worst.
As a trooper for six years and longer in law enforcement, Hotchkiss knew that missing-child cases could turn out badly.
The officer was about to follow up on an assignment on March 27 when the report came in at their barracks in Farmington.
The case became the priority, so Hotchkiss and another trooper drove as fast as possible to South Bristol, where the 2-year-old child was reported missing from her home in County Road 33.
It was 5:18 p.m. when the 911 center received the call about the toddler who had wandered from her home. The temperature was dropping and there was little daylight left, so the responders knew they had to act fast.
Hotchkiss joined a growing search team of other troopers, deputies, and Sheriff’s K-9 unit. It was a nice day then, but the temperature was dropping, which worried him the most.
The group first searched in and around the house, thinking that children sometimes go there to hide. They didn’t find her there, so they knocked on neighbors’ doors, asking if they had seen the little girl.
Hotchkiss said they got an overwhelming response, with many people wanting to help. The neighbors reached out to the others to join in locating the child.
The sun was beginning to set but they still hadn’t found the child. Although it seemed unlikely for a young child to walk up a steep hill, Hotchkiss and two other troopers decided to go up the mountain. They each took different paths.
“I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I didn’t check. I kept climbing and climbing after about 45 minutes of the climb, I looked up to the summit of the mountain and all I could see were trees and dirt,” he said.
There, he spotted something that didn’t belong: a “pink dot.”
The dispatcher had told him that the girl was wearing a white skirt with a pink top, so he thought this could be it.
Hotchkiss knew he had to investigate, and when he finally got to the stream, he saw the child.
“She was laying on her stomach on a rock,” Hotchkiss recalled. “I ran over to her as quick as possible and was calling her name. I saw her arm move and I knew she was alive. My heart just dropped, I was so excited. I ran up and she hugged me immediately and she wouldn’t let go.”
Hotchkiss took his radio and alerted the other searchers that he had found her at the top of the mountain. Trooper Jason Stirk wrapped the freezing child in his uniform, and Hotchkiss carried her down the hill.
The little girl was shivering when found and started crying when she saw the NY state trooper. Hotchkiss trekked down the mountain as fast as he could, and after 30 minutes, they were back on the ground.
The toddler shared an emotional reunion with her family. Thankfully, other than being soaking wet and shaken, she was unhurt.
“We got her down to the base as quick as possible and as safely as possible where she was treated by Canandaigua ambulance and transported for a basic check-over due to the elements,” Hotchkiss said.
The trooper is happy with how everything turned out and said this was an event in his career that he will never forget.
“I am blessed with how it turned out,” he said. “I knew there was only another 20 or 30 minutes of sunlight and it could have been a totally different game and turned into a completely different search.”
“She is safe and healthy and we are very happy that this was a positive outcome,” Ontario County Sheriff Kevin Henderson said.
More to this story in the video below.
We can’t imagine how worried the girl’s family must have been when they realized their child was gone. Kudos to NY state Trooper Hotchkiss and the entire search team for their efforts!