Local News

Kids 'in good shape' after night in woods

Posted June 25, 2009
Updated June 26, 2009

— Two children who were the subject of an Amber Alert Thursday have been found in the mountains of Mitchell County, according to news reports from the region.

Alexander Lee Suddeath, 6, and Heidi Elizabeth Suddeath, 4. Siblings rescued after night in mountains

Tina Tilley, with the U.S. Forest Service, told WLOS-TV in Asheville that siblings Alexander Lee Suddeath, 6, and Heidi Elizabeth Suddeath, 4, were found about a mile downhill on the Tennessee side of the mountain.

“Searchers that had been working with us last night and this morning through a gridded search located a shoe which led us in the direction of the children," she said. "It’s my understanding that the children are in good shape and they’re currently with rescuers. It’s going to be a while before we can get them out of the woods but they’re in good shape.”

Tilley said the rescuers might have to carry the children out of the woods, due to the rugged terrain.

Alexander and Heidi were hiking with their parents on Roan Mountain in Mitchell County near the Tennessee line on Wednesday. Their parents lost sight of them at about 2 p.m. while returning to a public parking lot on the mountain, according to authorities.

Temperatures dipped to the upper 40s Wednesday night and early Thursday, officials said. Rescuers said the children stopped walking at some point and slept beside a log.

The kids were given some Gatorade, Nutter Butters and an oatmeal pie and are expected to be just fine, authorities said.

Volunteers and authorities spent early Thursday looking for the children. Law enforcement closed the Rhododendron Gardens and surrounding trails during the search.

Tennessee Rep. Tony Shipley announced at 12:38 p.m., that the children had been found, according to the Bristol Herald Courier and WJHL-TV.


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  • Skywatch_NC Jun 25, 2009

    It's only a last name, dbcooper. ~Sigh~

  • Southern Girl Jun 25, 2009

    This family lost another child in 2002? Why? What happened? Was it an accident?

    This is unbelievable. And, the Mom is a nurse?

  • dbcooper41 Jun 25, 2009

    i think i'd change my name.

  • dbcooper41 Jun 25, 2009

    this family has really been through it. apparently dad(rick) was hit and run by an atv while walking down the road with heidi recently. and the also lost a little girl in 2002?, an angel child they call her. a friend of their daughter was also killed in a freak accident in january when she was run over by another friend's mom. mrs suddeath is an obstetrics nurse. all of this make s it almost inconcievable that they would lose sight of 2 kids. maybe they are cursed. parse the last name, sud_death? weird!

  • teacher-mom Jun 25, 2009

    They were lucky.

  • happymom Jun 25, 2009

    Glad that there was such a happy ending. These parents must have been out of their minds through all of this. Kids can get away from you sooo quickly, no matter how viligent you are.

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Jun 25, 2009

    Very well said LRB, I don't have anything to add to that.

  • LRB Jun 25, 2009

    Thank God this had a happy ending. It's a terrible feeling when you lose sight of your kids even for a second, so i can't even imagine what these parents went through. I'm sure they are torturing themselves enough with all the "what if's" so they don't need anymore judgement from me.

  • EasyU Jun 25, 2009

    Glad this story ended happily. I should've known that folks here would turn a happy story into a "let's bash the parents" situation. Children get lost sometimes... happens in even the best households believe it or not. I know, I was raised in a very loving and observant household and my three siblings (4, 5, and 6 years of age at the time) got lost in the woods behind our house for many hours. Why? Who knows? My Mom had to answer the phone for a second and they ran off chasing each other. These things happen. Just be glad the kids are home safe.

  • Mother2 Jun 25, 2009

    Thank you God, for taking care of these children. :)