About 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Matt Woodin, a worker with the Fox Valley Water Metro Reclamation District, found the boy not far from his home.
Ryan Flake spent much of Tuesday in his bedroom catching up on his sleep. His parents believe he may have spent 12 hours walking around on Monday night. The Kendall County sheriff says it was a situation in which officials hoped for the best, prepared for the worst and, at the end, came out lucky.
Hours after Ryan Flake was found safe and healthy, the three-year-old hanged onto parents Read and Vanae Flake as they hanged onto him. The Flakes may have gone through the hardest 12 hours of their lives when Ryan wandered away from their back door just after 8 p.m. on Monday night.
"Ryan was eating ice cream. I told the kids to come out and watch the sunset. Every night we have a family tradition.We walk out in our back yard and watch the sunset. I noticed then that he was missing," said Read Flake.
The Flakes and their six other children searched their large Oswego yard for about 20 minutes before calling the neighbors for help. Then the family called police and the search began. Read helped while Vanae was told to stay home.
"It's agony, but they wanted me close at home so that if they did find him they wouldn't have to hunt for me, too," said Vanae Flake.
"When that rain started coming down, I just, you know, it just made me ill because I knew he was out in it," said Read Flake.
The all-night search brought out 25 different agencies. Three-hundred people including dozens of volunteers came to help.
Just after 8:00 a.m., 12 hours after Ryan went missing, Woodin decided to work near a pond in hopes of looking for Ryan as well."I happened to be at the right place at the right time. I saw him stumbling in and out of the weeds between a retention pond and the creek right where my work has some assets. And I went over to him. I called 911," said Woodin.
The Flakes cannot be more grateful to Woodin, a man the couple called their hero.
"Thank you. You can't say thank you enough. There is just no way," said Vanae Flake.
"I was holding Ryan, but Vanae was able to give him a big hug, and, yeah, he was our hero," Read Flake.
According to Woodin, Ryan was dehydrated and scared when he found the boy. But then Ryan got very excited once he got into Woodin's truck.
The Flakes say in order to prevent future mishaps, the couple is just going to have to keep a very close eye on Ryan with the help of Ryan's five siblings. The family also said they do have child prevention locks all over the house, but Ryan is a very curious three-year-old and can get around deterrents.