The Illinois Sheriff’s Association recently paid tribute to four current and former members of the Lee County Sheriff’s Department for their efforts in locating and saving the life of a three-year-old boy in 2021. Chief Deputy Derek Ranken, Deputy Nathan Hollinger, Deputy Joe Presley and former Deputy Kolton Morgan were honored with the 2022 Deputies of the Year Award. 

(Photo courtesy Lee County Sheriff’s Office)

At about 12:56 a.m. on December 22, 2021, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office received a call regarding a three-year-old boy who went missing from his home in Harmon, Ill. Deputy Joseph Presley, then-Sergeant Derek Ranken, Deputy Kolton Morgan and Deputy Nathan Hollinger immediately responded to the scene. The child was last seen wearing only a diaper and the temperature at the time was 17 degrees Fahrenheit.  Deputies searched the immediate area and the home, extensively. The search area was expanded and more resources were brought in to assist with the search.

At about 2:27 a.m., Deputy Morgan found the child, naked and lying face down near a ditch on the east side of town. He wrapped the boy in his jacket and handed him to Deputy Hollinger so he could get additional blankets from his squad car. The child was unresponsive; it was believed he had been exposed to the elements, without protection, for about two hours. Sergeant Ranken told Deputy Morgan and Deputy Hollinger to take the child to KSB Hospital in Dixon in Deputy Morgan’s squad car, immediately. This location in the county is remote, with no ambulance service nearby. Deputy Presley was the lead car to ensure safe passage along the route to the hospital.  While en route, Deputy Hollinger performed CPR on the child twice, and the child recovered. City of Dixon police officers met them at the city limits and assisted with traffic control as the deputies rushed to the hospital. Upon arrival at KSB, nurses and doctors performed CPR while using the AED approximately four times as the child coded.  All efforts were eventually successful and the child regained consciousness.  He was stabilized and transported by helicopter to St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria for further treatment.