Jonathan Thomas Sturdy, 2, was found dead in a Walthourville canal about 8:30 p.m. Saturday after a three-hour search that ended fairly close to the child’s home, Walthourville Interim Police Chief Tracy McFadden said.
According to an incident report filed by Walthourville Police Officer Michael Dumas, Jonathan was reported missing by his mother, Kayla Sturdy, who told the officer he had been missing for about 30 minutes before she called 911. Officials think the toddler wandered away from his Busbee Road home around 5 p.m. According to the report, Kayla Sturdy first called her husband, Thomas Sturdy, who was visiting a friend at the time of the child’s disappearance.
Dumas said that when he arrived at the residence, Thomas Sturdy already was searching for his son. Members of the Walthourville Police Department, fire and rescue units, Hinesville police and the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, along with volunteers, formed a search party for Jonathan, who left the home wearing blue pajamas with built-in feet. Officials believe the youngster went into the woods near his home, crossed railroad tracks and continued through heavy underbrush and trees until he came to a canal, where he may have fallen in.
Eastern District firefighter Leonard Turner and a volunteer used Turner’s tracking dog to pick up the boy’s scent. The dog led them across railroad tracks and into a heavily wooded area, where Turner, using a small flashlight, found Jonathan submerged in water.
“I pointed my flash light into the water and found the child in the water,” Turner said.
Emergency medical personnel attempted to revive the boy before taking him to Liberty Regional Medical Center in Hinesville, where doctors worked on him for more than 40 minutes in an attempt to save his life. Shortly after 9:30 p.m., doctors pronounced the child dead, according to Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes.
Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Detective Tracey Jennings said on Sunday that an autopsy was to be conducted Tuesday morning at the GBI crime lab in Savannah.
“It’s an open investigation and we’re looking at all areas in this case,” she said.
The Walthourville Police Department and the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office are jointly conducting the investigation.