2-year-old boy found alive in Florida woods about 24 hours after he went missing

Joshua "JJ" Rowland was found Friday morning by a volunteer searcher.

February 24, 2023, 12:34 PM

A 2-year-old Brooksville, Florida, boy has been found alive in the woods about 24 hours after he went missing, authorities said.

Joshua "JJ" Rowland was found Friday morning by a volunteer searcher, Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis said at a news conference. The sheriff's announcement was met with cheers from journalists.

JJ's condition was not immediately clear, but the sheriff's office said he is "doing well, considering he has been out in the elements all night."

Joshua "JJ" Rowland a missing toddler has been found by volunteer searchers in Hernando County, Fla., on Feb. 24, 2023.
Hernando County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

JJ went missing on Thursday morning. It's believed he left his home while his parents were asleep, the sheriff's office said.

Helicopters searched overnight, and over 500 volunteers turned out Friday morning to help law enforcement look for the toddler, according to the sheriff's office.

JJ was found in the woods "quite a ways away from home," Nienhuis said.

Volunteer Roy Link, who located JJ, said he said a prayer about 10 minutes before finding the 2-year-old. The sheriff called Link "man of the year" and called JJ's rescue a "true miracle."

"I was hoping and praying for a miracle," the sheriff told reporters. "I think a lot of people were praying -- and prayer works."

ABC News' Jianna Cousin and Matt Foster contributed to this report.