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. tiabear

    Actually. This little boy got lost was not the work of God. It was the work of satan. God never causes any disease. Satan. Is the work of all evil. Not God. Thank you Lord for watching over Robbie and keeping him safe!!

    October 28, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • RUFFNUTT (kcmo)...

      actually it was the work of his dad being a poor parent and not keeping an eye on him...
      .
      and probally drinking or doing drugs when he did the boy's mom and shot out a retarded sperm cell...

      October 28, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lola

    I'm so glad they found him alive. I wish him a speedy recovery.

    October 28, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • RUFFNUTT (kcmo)...

      he's never going to recover... he's retarded...

      October 28, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Maddox

    Sure peter because FATHERS never murder their kids. Ok. Men are murderers. See how dumb that sounds?

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

    If anyone reading this post either has an autistic child, person with Alzheimer's or any other cognitive deficiency in their home, or has a neighbor, friend or relative that does, 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. Responsible media reporting providing resources to folks perhaps?.....

    October 28, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • L.Dill

      A 25$ a month fee, wonder what the fee is for those new gps shoes being touted? I know the shoes are 300 and equipped with a gps. I am looking into them for my daughter (7, non verbal, autistic) I have looked into that Project Lifesaver, and one would think they would waive the monthly fee if someone can change the battery themselves 🙂

      October 28, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • DS

      A division of LoJack provides tracking bracelets for those prone to wander. It's only available in limited areas right now. Such an important service should be available everywhere! I also think it should be covered by insurance (but that's my idealism - that comment is not meant to start a political debate).

      October 28, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      Bo, I see that you keep leaving the same project lifesaver info, and good for you for getting the word out. I live in this area where Robert went missing, and our local newspaper has already run a very informative article about this program. For those wondering about the costs-many communities cover the costs for the family. I found out that several of the counties in my area will pay for the program, and send somebody out to change the batteries on the device. Any parent worried about an autistic child or elderly parent should check with their locality to see if they cover something like this, or if they might want to start. Consider the extensive costs to Hanover and Caroline counties and the Virginia State Police from this search and rescue operation. For a much smaller amount of money, all of this worry and heartache could have been prevented, not to mention what would've been a much more tragic event if he had not been found alive.

      October 28, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. lisa

    I fail to see how the child got lost in the woods in the first place. Dad should thank God for a second chance to do MUCH better for his son in the future.

    October 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • L.Dill

      Lisa, imagine your child being quick, easily distracted, and times that with no fear and no attachments, and you have an autistic child wondering away.

      October 28, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Just how would you propose Dad do better, Lisa?

      October 28, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. i_know_everything

    meh

    October 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Maddox

    God and satan didn't get this boy lost, and they didn't get this boy found, either. Thank goodness this is a happy ending! I'm so glad!!

    October 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bill

    As the parent of an autistic, completely nonverbal child, this is absolutely my greatest fear. The police departments of many communities are starting to offer tracking devices for nonverbal citizens to wear. If you live with or love somebody who can not speak enough to take care of themselves, please look into this device. My daughter disappeared last summer from our home and it was the most terrifying hour of my life. Luckily she found her way into the yard of a kind lady who immediately called the police and we were reunited very quickly. I shudder to think what the possiblities could have been.

    October 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kindasorta

      Hey Bill, I saw on television the other day they are coming out very soon with gps units in tennis shoes for people with Altzheimers. This would be a good application for your situation too. I believe I saw this on the CBS Morning show, but I am not for sure. Good luck. and God Bless.

      October 28, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bo

      Bob.... here is some data for you: 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 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Melissa

    U R such a freakin idiot......how dumb do you sound.....

    October 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Blue

    @ Bo
    Thank so very much for that information, you are a true testament to a kind sole! 🙂

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

      Blue... Thank you for the kind words! I am a Emergency Management Director in West Virginia, and our jobs are all about providing resources like information on Project Lifesaver to our citizens! In this instance, I can ACTUALLY say, "I am from the government, and I am here to help!" :~)

      October 28, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blue

      @ Bo, Well Bo Gods beauty in you shines thru loud and clear! have a great night all 🙂

      October 28, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. 80s guy

    So is CNN now part of the Tommy Westphall universe?

    October 28, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Elizabeth

    Boss Hogg-you'd better hope we don't encounter one another. I have a child with autism and it is not "made up" and we receive no governmental support, nor did we apply. Our child has very real differing abilities and you have NO RIGHT, NO CONCEPT and clearly no humanity to think that ANY parent would make up this diagnosis. Shame on you for your perceptions. You are calling these "stupid kids?" Really – because my 4 1/2 year old has the IQ of a person in their 20s. Bite it.

    October 28, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. SKyle

    Autistic children may be a lot of things, but dumb is not one of them; not by a mile...

    October 28, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Retired Military in San Antonio

      Very true......Google "Savant Syndrome" if you have any doubts......

      October 28, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      My boy has aspergers and damn is he smart. While other kids his age are still saying dinosaur, hes correcting them and telling them its a euoplocephalus. Its interaction he has issues with, not intelligence.

      October 28, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boxer

      There is a difference between being autistic and being an "autistic savant". The majority of people with autism are not geniuses and most are borderline intellectual functioning.

      That's the PC term for "mentally retarded" these days.

      October 28, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      Steve Jobs gave them apps that make it so we can communicate with some autism students that never could. They were limited by the way everyone else thought they should. It was the tools we gave them and many they thought would be handicapped were able to read write and communicate ideas as soon as they were taught to use it.

      October 28, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emmanuel Goldstien

      You really should do some research before you spout off nonsense. You are 100% wrong. There is a HUGE difference between being "retarded" and autistic. First off, someone with mental retardation has retarded brain function, and low intelligence. Autism is actually a spectrum of disorders which all follow the same 'model' which is an inability to interpret and communicate social cues and language. Autistic individuals are often overwhelmed by the basic sights and sounds of the world. By the way, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs are all believed to have placed on the autism spectrum.

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

      What does it matter. Are you suggesting one is more acceptable than the other??? My kids are living with ASD and a cognitive impairment. Which by the way is the accepted social and clinical term.

      October 28, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Boxer, you are an idiot. My son is autistic and is very intelligent. He knew his states and capitals when he was 3 and reads beyond his academic level. Why don't you learn something about autism before you talk about it.

      October 28, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • JG

      You clearly have no f'n idea what you're talking about. Good thing you're such a "tough" guy. Most morons are. Have to get by somehow, right?

      October 28, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. a searcher

    It's Hanover County, Virginia......

    October 28, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • a searcher

      thanks for correcting this. as one of the first searchers on Monday, I'd like to commend the Hanover Sheriff and Fire/EMS departments, and the thousand or so civilian volunteers who showed up every day to look for Robert, Jr. also the Hanover businesses who allowed their employees to search without loss of pay. we never gave up!

      October 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Blue

    Every time I come in contact with someone like these people, makes me realize how far I have to go in my walk with God! They are so blessed to have such a beautiful innocent pure heart. Unlike some on these blogs and you know who ya all are, shame on you!

    October 28, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
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