Posted at: 09/09/2012 1:24 AM
By: Dietrich Nissen
New Technology Helps Find Lost Autistic Boy
(ABC 6 News) -- What if your child had a tendency to wander off, and one day went missing? On Saturday morning, a Hollandale family had that happen when their 11-year old son disappeared. Fortunately, a new technology used by emergency services was able to locate the boy.
Around 9 a.m., Angela Wilcox noticed her next-door neighbors panicking.
"When I saw Randy running down the street and Sara was- did you find him? Then I realized they were looking for James," says Wilcox.
James is her neighbor and she says he’s an 11-year old autistic boy. She says he usually wanders off to nearby neighbors’ homes, but on Saturday he went in the cornfields.
"My dad mentioned that he has the tracker so that they can find him," says Wilcox.
After the call, emergency responders came to the field to search for James. A search that could have taken hours but because of this new technology, lasted only 15 minutes.
"Having this technology available expedited the rescue of this child," says Freeborn County Sheriff’s Deputy, Glen Strom. He says the technology is part of a program called Project Lifesaver and it's only three years old in Freeborn County. During the call, a deputy used a large antennae receiver to find the bracelet's transmission which can reach as far as a mile away. Up to this point, the device had never successfully been used in Freeborn County.
"One save has paid for the project in itself," says Strom.
"I think the tracker is a wonderful idea for days like today so that the parents are spared of their misery a lot faster and not wondering where their child is for hours," says Wilcox.
Each year thousands of children with autism wander off and if not found quickly the results can be devastating. But fortunately, for one 11-year old boy, he's back at home safe and sound.
The program can cost as much as $350 dollars to set up. However, the Sheriff’s office says financial aid is available for families so the cost is reduced to almost nothing.