UPDATE: A missing 6-year-old Blount County boy has been found safe after a 22-hour search, and was being guarded by his pet dog when a search team found them, officials said.
Kaydon Leach disappeared from his home in the Top of the World community in Blount County Monday evening. Blount County Sheriff James Berrong said about 100 first responders from several local, state and federal agencies began searching for him around 7 p.m. Monday.
The search teams conducted grid searches in a 2,000-acre area of mountainous terrain overnight in the rain and into Tuesday. A team of deputies and Blount County firefighters found Leach and his dog lying down about a half-mile away from his home around 3:30 p.m.
One of Leach's pet dogs, a black and white terrier named Chula, went missing with him, and was guarding the boy when searchers found them.
"The dog actually growled at the rescuers when they approached Kaydon," Blount County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Jeff French said.
Leach was taken to Blount Memorial Hospital. No information was immediately available about his condition.
Kaydon's family released a statement Tuesday through a hospital spokesperson expressing their thanks for the search crews:
“We’re so thankful to everyone, from local law enforcement agencies to volunteers, who helped us find Kaydon. The amount of support we have received has been tremendous, even from people we don’t even know. We appreciate all our friends and neighbors, and ask for privacy at this time.”
PREVIOUS STORY: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has issued an Endangered Child Alert for a missing 6-year-old boy that disappeared in Blount County Monday.
Marian O'Briant with the Blount County Sheriff's Office said there is a joint search underway in the Top of the World and Tallassee community for 6-year-old Kaydon Leach.
Leach reportedly disappeared on Monday afternoon near his home in Tallassee near South Hummingbird Drive, and authorities began searching for him around 7 p.m. that day after receiving word.
Leach is approximately 4 feet tall and 60 pounds. He has brown hair and blue eyes, and was last seen wearing a black t-shirt, gray sweatpants and slip-on shoes. One of his dogs, a small black and white terrier, may be with him.
The BCSO said they have been searching through the night and are receiving assistance from an Army Blackhawk helicopter detachment from McGhee Tyson Airbase.
Crews continue to search from the air and ground.
People in the immediate area in Blount County received an emergency alert on their phones from the BCSO about Leach's disappearance around 10:50 p.m.
Anyone with information about Leach's whereabouts is asked to call the Blount County Sheriff's Office at 865-983-3620 or 911.