Editor's note: This story has been updated to remove a quote.
Concerns are growing for a 3-year-old boy who reportedly wandered into the woods Tuesday afternoon at 200 Toler Road on the border of Craven and Pamlico counties.
Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes, who is heading the search for the child, said the boy was reported missing at 1:45 p.m., but he had already been missing a half an hour or more at that point.
Hughes said the boy, who has not been identified, was being watched by his grandmother along with two other children.
"Two came inside," Hughes said the grandmother told him and she assumed the third child had come in as well. She didn’t realize he was missing until half an hour had gone by.
The boy is described as being 3 feet tall, wearing "light clothes-no winter clothes," Hughes said.
The child’s clothing is a special concern as the weather is cold and is expected to turn colder as the night comes in, with temperatures expected to drop to 30 degrees by 9 p.m.
Hughes said the search is a difficult one – the area is densely wooded and spotted with pools of water.
"Our concern is, we are running out of light and it is cold outside. There are so many pockets of water and sinkholes, some of my deputies have come in up to here," he said pointing to mid thigh to illustrate the depth of the sinkholes.
Hughes has called his whole department to take part in the search and said he is being assisted by 10-15 NC Highway Patrolmen.
Highway Patrol provided a helicopter with Forward-looking infrared (FLIR) camera, which picks up heat sources.
Pamlico Sheriff’s Department and New Bern Police have brought in dogs to assist in the search. Searchers include at least two fire departments, family and local residents who are searching the woods in a grid pattern.
Hughes said searchers have chosen the area by estimating the speed at which a 3-year-old might be able to walk.
"My biggest concern are those sinkholes and water," he said.
Hughes asked that anyone in the area who sees anything unusual or suspicious call and report it.
"We’ve got a large area to cover, a lot of woods,"