Missing: My Little Boy

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Tonight I lived every parents worst nightmare. My 5 (almost 6) year old non-verbal autistic son went out the front door and ran off down the street alone. Not more than 4 minutes had passed when I noticed the screen door open and one of our dogs in our front yard. One of our neighbors said she saw him running down the street so I took off after him. I followed the direction she said she saw him running yelling his name and calling to anyone in the houses on our street to help look. Barefoot I charged up street after street following pointing fingers from people along the way. Unfortunately my wife wasn’t home and I wasn’t able to get her on her cell phone. I called my in-laws for backup. After the second street I started to get really scared I wouldn’t see my son again. I continued to yell his name and dialed 911 on my cell phone. Some people along the way were nice enough to get into their cars and begin looking for him. As I ran down one street talking to the 911 dispatcher I noticed a crowd on the end of the street pointing down towards a major intersection. I ran back toward them when one of the ladies yelled at me, “We found him! He’s at my house!” “Where’s your house?” I asked my voice now hoarse from yelling. “Just 2 blocks down. We saw him almost run by and he was almost at Orangeburg when we got in our van and picked him up. We called the police. They said to keep him at our house until they got here.” “Thank you” I replied following the lady to her house. Sure enough as we approached the house the woman’s daughter brought my son out into the front yard. In his hand he clutched the remote to our TV where he had been watching Dora the Explorer. As I waited for the police to show up I held my son tight in my arms thankful that what might have been much worse hadn’t come to pass.

There will be no photo of the day tonight. No posts about the goings on in Yosemite. No news about trail openings or fires. Tonight I sit in my house thankful to have my son with me. As the adrenaline wears off I begin to feel again but there is a new sadness in me. The realization of what I lived through tonight and the knowledge that I must never again let it happen. I am thankful for my wife and beautiful daughter and my wonderful in-laws who came running when I called. I am thankful for all my neighbors and even the strangers who came to help me find my little boy.

Thank you all. Have a good night.

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11 commentsOn Missing: My Little Boy

  • I am thankful it turned out ok. Last Thanksgiving, I was caravaning across Arizona with my two (grown) children in the other car. They were about twenty minutes ahead of us on the highway. We passed a horrific accident in the darkness (emergency vehicles had already arrived), but five or ten minutes later we realized we hadn’t seen the vehicles involved. It slowly dawned on us that it could have been the kids, so we grabbed the cell phones, but were in a very remote area, and couldn’t contact the them for over an hour. It was a painful and scary hour. When we did get in contact, we found that they missed being in the accident by mere seconds.

    There was an awful tragedy for someone’s family that night, but not our family on that occasion. I can only imagine the feelings you had, and I am thankful everything turned out well

  • Dude! Glad things turned out fine. As the father of a little one I cannot even comprehend though I can imagine what emotions you dealt and are still dealing with.

  • Thank God.

    I’m glad that everything turned out ok. Your title had me really scared!

  • Every parents has their heart wrenched reading such stories. I too am very glad he was found and that he was safe.

  • Mark Petersen

    Such bad/good news. I was a little mislead by the title of your post and the first few sentences of it. I am glad this story has a happy ending and that the community rallied around you during your short-lived crisis.

    So many stories begin exactly like yours and, sadly, do not end in the same fashion. Thank God this is not one of those times. And thank you for sharing such a personal experience with us.

    Your “extended neighbor”,

    Mark

  • Thank God. That was a scary title. I’m glad you have such great neighbors and family. I can’t even imagine how that must have felt. Glad your son is home safe.

  • YOUR STORY HAD ME WANTING TO JUMP UP AND HELP LOOK FOR YOUR SON, I BEING A PARENT OF TWO CHILDERN (BOTH GROWN NOW) KNOW OF THE TERROR THAT GRIPPS YOUR HEART WHEN ONE OF YOUR MOST PRECIOUS LOVED ONE’S HAS TURNED UP MISSING, I WAS SO HAPPY AT THE END OF THE STORY THERE WERE TEAR’S IN MY EYE’S ……….
    SO HAPPY THAT YOUR SON IS SAFE AND BACK HOME SAFE AND SOUND…..
    CARL

  • Loyd: Tonight on the news (NBC) Brian Williams mentioned an ankle device that helps parents keep a “radar” on autistic children and older adults with Altheizmer’s, just because of this very reason of wandering off. Maybe it’s something that your active child needs, for his safety and your peace of mind. I’m very happy he was found and that you are all back together again. Take care and my prayers are with you. –Carol O

  • Thanks everyone. It’s good to have such a great community behind me. The feeling you get while you run around looking for your child realizing that you could never see them again is indescribable.

  • My God Loyd, that’s horrifying.

    Hopefully there will not be a next time, but for God’s sake, if there is, post with the title “Found: My Little Boy”. Knowing that your son is autistic (b/c we talked about giving him ski lessons) and seeing that title in my RSS reader freaked me out. I had to jump to the end before I could go and read the story.

    Glad it worked out okay.

  • Loyd,
    I do not know you, but I am very glad to hear the outcome of your story. I am wondering if you have heard about Project Lifesaver (or Operation Lost and Found), as it is called in Madera County. It is a program designed for the exact scenario you encountered. Please e-mail me if you are interested in more information regarding such a program. You also may be able to get information from your local Sheriff’s Office/Search and Rescue Team. It is free in our county, and it does save lives. Best of luck to you and your family.

    -Drew

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