A two-year-old boy was found in the woods by a retired U.S. Marine after being missing for more than 24 hours.
The boy had disappeared from his home while his mother slept.
Roy Link served in the U.S. Marine Corps and worked for more than 32 years with the Hernando County parks department as a supervisor.
He was one of more than 500 people who volunteered to search for the boy.
The toddler, Joshua ‘JJ’ Rowland, was barefoot and grazed but happy to see Link.
Link found the young boy half a mile north of the child’s home in Brooksville.
Rowland was last seen at around 10 am on Thursday morning playing with dogs in his yard while his mother was sleeping inside.
Besides the 500 volunteers, nearly 100 law enforcement officials joined in the search.
They used ATVs, infrared cameras, horses, and helicopters.
But in the end, it was a hunch by an old Marine that saved the day.
“I was going fishing. Something told me no, gotta do this.”
Meet Roy Link. He’s the U.S. Marine veteran who found missing 2-year-old Joshua “JJ” Rowland after hearing someone whimper in the woods during today’s search.
— JB Biunno #HeyJB (@WFLAJB) February 24, 2023
Link said he crossed a field and came upon some woods.
He went in for a closer look, listening to every sound, when he heard faint “whimpering.”
“I listened good and I heard like a whimpering kind of noise and at that point, I was like, there’s no kids here, it’s gotta be JJ.
“And sure enough, I went in the woods, about 100 feet from where I was at.
“I think he was in some stickers, but he was happy to see me.
“He put his arms, his hands up, he was real happy and he wanted mom.
“He started hollering for mom.
“I actually had my boat hooked up to my truck this morning.
“I was going fishing. Something told me no, gotta do this.
“Deputies showed up,” he said.
“I guess I made a friend real quick ’cause he hung onto me, and he didn’t want to go to anybody until his parents showed up.”
This is Roy Link.
A retired US Marine. He had plans to go fishing today but cancelled that to join the search for then missing 2-year-old JJ Rowland in Brooksville, FL.
He found JJ, 24 hours after he was last seen
— Aaron Parseghian WTSP (@AaronParseghian) February 24, 2023
Hernando County Sheriff Al Neinhuis said:
“I got to admit, I’m a little emotional because I thought, surely, we were going to have bad news.
“It is a good day in Hernando County. Just a very good day.”