DNR officer finds boy, 5, who wandered outside into single-digit temperatures

8February 2021

A 5-year-old boy who had wandered out of his northwestern Minnesota home in single-digit temperatures wearing just his pajamas was saved by a state Department of Natural Resources officer who found the child face down in the snow.

DNR Officer Chris Vinton assisted the Perham Police Department in looking for the child who walked outside late last month, a DNR report said.

“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Vinton said in a phone interview. He said he happened to be in Perham on Jan. 26 when the call came in and went to assist in the search.

The child was reported missing about 10:11 a.m., when the temperature was just 7 degrees.

Vinton said when he got there, the Perham police and fire chiefs were already looking for the missing boy.

Perham Police Chief James Gritz said the 5-year-old child undid the door bolt and wandered out of the house.

Gritz said the police were called right away and told that the boy does not see or hear well.

The report said once Vinton arrived, he was given the name and description of the child.

Vinton said when he was going to the neighbor’s to ask for permission to look for the child in a detached garage when he saw the boy lying motionless and face-down in the snow behind a snowbank. The boy was about 30 feet away from where Vinton parked but could not be seen right away because he was behind the snowbank.

“I scooped him up,” Vinton said before he took the child to the ambulance to be taken to the hospital. He said when he got to the child, he was cold and just barely conscious.

Gritz said the child is all right.

He said the child was taken to Perham Health and then, he believes, was transferred to a Fargo, N.D., hospital as a precautionary measure.

Perham is located in Otter Tail County, about 20 miles southeast of Detroit Lakes.

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