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.