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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soundoff (214 Responses)
  1. Karen

    My 7 years old son is autistic and mute...In public places, I always hold him by hands...I do not let him go around alone because it is very easy for them to disappear in seconds. I am quite sure that our God is always taking care of every autistic child or adult in special manner because they are like angels and most of the time when they disappear, later on they are found. I feel so sorry, for the regular kids who are never found...

    October 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. gale

    I work with autistic children all the time and they are some of the smartest kids around, however, they do tend to wander off more than the average child. This dad could have been the most diligent person alive and still it could happen. They are definately escape artists. I am so happy he was found safe and sound. I am happy for the family too.

    October 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dee

    I wonder if this happened on a custodial visit? I would be pretty upset if I was the bio mom...how can you lose a child especially when they have a special condition like that?

    October 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. AJ

    Boy with autism, child with autism, he has autism. NOT "autistic boy" C'mon cnn, at the very least you should understand the concept of people first language.

    October 28, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Glenn

    So glad he was found. Been praying for him.

    October 28, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Hello

    one more reason, children , pets and some elderly need to have trackable GPS units on them. They are slowly coming on the market.. soon I hope they are common and affordable for most people to use. These units could save a lot of grief and lives. I saw they now have GPS shoes for the elderly. It would be nice to have them for special kids too. I just got my kitty chipped...It is a huge world out there... and easy to get lost or taken... we need to accept that and be proactive and protect those we love.

    October 28, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dolores

    It's always good to hear that a missing child is found alive and well. A happy ending to a horrible ordeal.

    October 28, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mm

    A wonderful happy ending! I am so happy for his family!!!

    October 28, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. cricket

    Cmon, cnn writers should know to use -people first language- like a couple others said here. He isnt that autistic boy. . . He is a boy who has autism. Thats like saying -that fat chick or that ginger or that cancer patient – rather than the woman who is overweight or the kid with red hair or the man that has cancer. People come before their disease,looks, and other things. Its the same thing when it comes to talking about people who have autsim!!!

    October 28, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Scottish Mama

    Great job rescuer workers and volunteers. Congrats another job well done. The parents must be so happy.
    s kel-I thought you might try to make your way there.

    October 28, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kevin O.

    Lost autistic people only think of themselfs. I'll bet his was aggravating everything around him as he tried furiously to make everything fit into his world as he sees it. Probably didn't even thank his saviors.

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

      Really? Can you READ??? The article says he is autistic and doesn't speak. Never mind that, he's a little kid who has spent several days and night alone. Do you really think he's going to think of anything other than he is now safe?

      October 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • leroy

      bet your right there

      October 28, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stewart

      Hi Kevin – of course he did not thank them verbally – he does not have speech ability yet. What I found out about autism over the years, is to never assume anything about a child or person that is dealing with it, because I would mostly be wrong. What I do know to do, is never limit that person by making an assumption about them because of a label. Take Care, Stewart.

      October 28, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lora

      You should work for The Onion.

      October 28, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lora

      I have 2 kids with autism. I thought your comment was funny, thanks for the laugh. People just don't understand.

      October 28, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lora

      All of you who are incensed about Kevin's comments don't understand. Kids with autism are like all other kids. And their parents are like all other parents. We love them, we worry about them, and sometimes as parents we find laughter to be the best medicine.

      October 28, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. paul

    thank you lord!!!

    October 28, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kelly

    Please ignore the post from Boxer as he does not know much about autism. There are such things as "autism savants" however you cannot say most have borderline intelligence! I have a 10-year-old with Aspergers and a 6 year-old with high-functioning autism. They are each behind in certain areas, especially social interaction, and ahead in many others. Neither is an "autistic savant" but both score very well in IQ testing. Even non-verbal low-functioning children can have high IQs. It is impossible to say "most" children with autism have any particular symptom. This is why it is classified as a spectrum disorder.

    October 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. frank

    yayy, I like this

    October 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kelly

    Dear Kevin O: you are a soulless b@stard. I hope all your fingers fall off and you can never type hateful asinine words about disabled children again.

    October 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
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