Autistic boy found alive days after vanishing at park
Robert Wood Jr., 8, was found Friday, five days after he vanished during a family hike in a Virginia park.
October 28th, 2011
03:35 PM ET

Autistic boy found alive days after vanishing at park

[Updated at 4:27 p.m. ET] An autistic boy whose disappearance in a Virginia park five days ago prompted a search with thousands of volunteers was found alive Friday afternoon at a nearby quarry, authorities said.

Robert Wood Jr., 8, was found lying down but alert in a creek bed at a quarry near the 80-acre North Anna Battlefield Park, Hanover County Sheriff David Hines told reporters at a news conference.

The boy was flown by helicopter to a hospital, where he was reunited with his family. Hines said he didn’t know Robert’s medical condition, but the boy appeared to be “in good shape.”

“Whenever a child goes missing, everyone wants to step up. And that’s happened today,” Hines said.

Robert had wandered from his father at the park on Sunday. Robert, his father, Robert's younger brother and his father’s girlfriend were hiking at the park, which is in Doswell, Virginia, according to CNN affiliate WTVR.

The child was found less than a mile from where he was last seen, Hines said.

Robert is autistic and does not speak, which complicated the search, according to WTVR.

About 6,000 volunteers played some role in the search since Sunday, along with about 300 professional searchers in the park and surrounding areas, Hanover County authorities said.

Hines said the person who found Robert was “a citizen”; it wasn’t clear whether the person was a volunteer.

Asked whether investigators believed the boy had been at the spot for a long time, Hines answered that searchers had scoured the same area previously.

“I don’t think we walked past him. We're just thankful that we was located,” Hines said.

Hines praised the thousands of people who volunteered.

“We had to turn volunteers away, not because we didn’t want their service, ... (but) we just couldn’t support their service. And that’s been a great thing,” he said.

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Filed under: Virginia
soundoff (214 Responses)
  1. Liz

    wow. last friday, i was with MY autistic grandson in the foothills of california, apple hill. we were at a farm, getting apple pies, horse riding and looking at halloween decorations. i kept very close track of him, and the thought crossed my mind of how devastating it would be to lose him in the crowd. fortunately, he speaks and is very wary of strangers, so he sticks right next to me, his hand on the stroller i pushed holding his little sister.
    so GLAD this had a good outcome.

    October 28, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. molly

    hhhhhiiiiiiii

    October 28, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. We need a new president

    So glad he's alive. Now please get a GPS bracelet on that boy asap.

    October 28, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fiona

      Good point. I've seen inexpensive GPS devices for dogs sold in pet supply catalogs, so I don't think cost is the issue. I suspect parents think they are just so good at keeping an eye on their children (or elderly parents with dementia?) that they reject GPS locators as beneath them. But it takes only one mistake, one moment of distraction and you can lose a loved one.

      October 28, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bo

      Project Lifesaver is a non-profit national organization that provides tracking bracelets and works with local law enforcement agencies to track and recover missing individuals quickly.
      Project Lifesaver provides equipment, training, certification and support to law enforcement, public safety organizations and community groups throughout the country and nation. It has over 1,200 participating agencies across the U.S., Canada, and Australia, and has performed 2,440 searches in the last 11 years with no serious injuries or fatalities ever reported. This young man could have perhaps been found much, much sooner if he was a part of this program! Maybe CNN could do a follow-up article on Project Lifesaver and/or other organizations that provide such services so this type of event might not happen again.

      October 28, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. any1

    This just made my day after all the typical bad news I'm used to seeing out here...Total Parent Nightmare, I can only imagine..Thanks to everyone who played a role in this!!

    October 28, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Barge

    You should consider person-first terminology for this posting.

    October 28, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jared Bradford

    I'm proud of all those volunteers. Good to know that when it all boils down to it, we humans can rise about varying political differences, etc. and just be good people.

    October 28, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Donna Richey

    Hi. Thank God for getting this boy home. I wear a MedicAlert bracelet with my health info. The company also makes bracelets for autistic kids to wear with their contact info on it. Cool bracelets for kids. See website. Necklaces too. So, if lost, at least the bracelet will give info to contact company and they in turn contact parents. Would work for Alzheimer's patients, stroke survivors.

    October 28, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fiona

      Not really. Many low-functioning autistics do not like to be touched. A stranger reaching for the necklace or bracelet would send them into a panic. Better to have a GPS locator and/or an assistance dog (not appropriate for all autistic kids).

      October 28, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Theresa DeLaughter

      We found a company online that makes temporary tattoos with the info on them. My son is one who cannot stand to wear even a plastic "ride all the rides" bracelet. These are a true gift! Put just a name and number one on my daughter as well, just in case.

      October 28, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kate

    This is absolutely wonderful news! I live in a community next to where this happened, and thousands of volunteers were out searching tirelessly for days. There were so many volunteers, in fact, they had to be turned away ever day. Today they all gathered and celebrated. Helped reaffirmed that most people are, at their core, wonderful giving people. So thrilled to have a happy ending to this story!!! Hugs to Robbie and his family.

    October 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bo

      Project Lifesaver is a non-profit national organization that provides tracking bracelets and works with local law enforcement agencies to track and recover missing individuals quickly.
      Kate... Please share this info with your community! ~ Project Lifesaver provides equipment, training, certification and support to law enforcement, public safety organizations and community groups throughout the country and nation. It has over 1,200 participating agencies across the U.S., Canada, and Australia, and has performed 2,440 searches in the last 11 years with no serious injuries or fatalities ever reported. This young man could have perhaps been found much, much sooner if he was a part of this program! Maybe CNN could do a follow-up article on Project Lifesaver and/or other organizations that provide such services so this type of event might not happen again.

      October 28, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. fairandsquare

    Great news! I'm happy that he is reunited with his family and thrilled that this story has a happy ending. 🙂

    October 28, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. peter

    Good news in an ever awful series of stories where MOTHERS are killing their children, women are murderers!

    October 28, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. charan

    Good job.

    October 28, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. We NEED the same president... OBAMA 2012!!!

    Def get that boy a Gps tracking bracelet... Really happy that it had a good outcome and very thankful that there were so many volunteers....

    October 28, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • RUFFNUTT (kcmo)...

      if we tracked retards we wouldn't be able to keep them locked up in the basement and cash thier checks!!!!

      October 28, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. fairandsquare

    Let us just ignore the troll. Let's keep this positive blog going.

    October 28, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Playjojo

      Like mac11, who'd rather just blame the parents, because thats easier than learner even a little about something that might make him seem the slightest bit intelligent. People like that don't want to learn about anything. There are varying degrees to autism, like a lot of disabilities. I'm lucky, my son has it slightly, he doesn't like to be touched, and cannot show affection very well, but is very popular, functions extremely well, and with some who are savants, he's a great one with cars. He's 15.

      October 28, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. dragonex

    This is wonderful news. How refreshing. Thank you to all the people helping to find him and bring him home.

    October 28, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tom

    You're an idiot. My autistic son is able to think circles around clueless bafoons like you.

    October 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      Is Autism hereditary?

      October 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mion

      There is some evidence showing that it can be inherited, mostly from the father's side. They haven't proven that it is definitely hereditary, but a big chunk of psychologists agree that it has at least some genetic basis. There have even been sets of twins observed to have autistic traits even if they were separated at a young age.

      I have Asperger's. I'm the only one in the family who has been formally diagnosed, but my dad shows some of the symptoms, and he says that there have been some "eccentric" people in his side of the family. If he does have it himself, it is extremely minor...

      October 28, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • cindy

      yes autisim, adhd, & asburgers are ALL hereditary. Ask any psyc dr.

      October 28, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • RUFFNUTT (kcmo)

      i heard retarded babies come from retarded parents.. or atleast half retarded people.. and when two half retards get it on, a full retard is born....

      October 28, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
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