HERRIMAN, Utah (AP) — A police dog named Copper has been credited for saving the life of a missing 6-year-old Utah boy who accidentally fell into an open manhole and became trapped underground.
Kollin Bailey presented a large bone and a stocking full of doggie treats to his new four-legged friend on Saturday, a day after his ordeal in cold darkness about 10 feet below ground.
“He saved my life,” the boy told KUTV-TV, echoing his parents’ belief.
After he was reported missing Friday afternoon, the 6-year-old bloodhound tracked his scent to the manhole in Kollin’s hometown of Herriman, about 25 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Police said the boy spent three to four hours there until he was located Friday night. An officer then descended the hole to lift him out.
“I was really scared ... I thought I was going to miss Christmas,” Kollin said.
Kollin, who suffered a broken arm and mild concussion, said he was flying a kite when he tripped and fell into the manhole.
“I was looking back at my kite and I fell, then I blacked out. And when I opened my eyes, I was in there,” he told the Deseret News.
The dog’s handler, West Valley City police Sgt. Shane Matheson, said it only took Copper about 20 minutes to lead him to the manhole once they joined the search. They began their search from where Kollin’s bicycle was found.
“He (Kollin) was pretty relieved he had been found,” Matheson told The Salt Lake Tribune. “He said he thought he had been down there seven hours.”
It was all in a day’s work for Copper, who has tracked down 81 suspects and missing people, Matheson added.
“To him it is just a game of hide and seek,” he said. “It’s kind of a nice change of pace from finding bad guys to actually helping a family out.”