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. pamela daniel for apps for childern for robert

    October 28, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Crazy


    October 28, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. joanna

    Here is a happy ending to a very sad story. im glad they found the boy. all the volunteers who helped look for him may happiness always be with you. as far as these rude people who think autisc children are stupid i hope you rot with the devil. Autisc children are not stupid they r VERY INTELLIGENT. GOD BLESS FAMILY FRIENDS VOLUNTEERS AND ALL MEDICAL PERSONAL FOR ALL THERE HARD WORK

    October 28, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. reficul

    Wow 8 year old autistic boy starves for five days and some christ guys getting all the credit!!!!

    October 28, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Crazy


    October 28, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lora

    Kevin O

    I have 2 kids who are living with autism. If you were attempting to be sarcastic or funny you succeeded. I laughed at your comments. Sometimes it helps not to take things so seriously, otherwise I would spend my days worrying myself to death.

    October 28, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mac11

    Great parenting here...

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


      October 28, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • mar

      The father is an idiot and should loose custody of this child. I have the same aged son who has autism and also non-verbal. I never ever let my son play unsupervised or even left alone. The father is unfit to care for his handicap son.

      October 28, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • sheppard

      Good parents can turn their head for a second and have a child wander off. Some of you need to stop being so desperate for something to bi+ch about and just rejoice that this little boy is safe. I'm sure his family is.

      October 28, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff

    That is awesome. Congrats the family!

    October 28, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. BigDeal

    dude, did you really just use the "R" word to describe a child with autism?
    You are apparently VERY ignorant and small minded

    October 28, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Maddox

    Wrong, Boxer, but it explains YOU.

    October 28, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Peggy Ruiz-Isasi

    Just saw an article regarding sneakers with GPS chips in them designed for Alzheimer's patients, who have a tendency to wander off and who also are unable to communicate well. Perhaps a similar sneaker, but for children with autism? Would certainly be a lifesaver, allowing the child to be located much more rapidly and with much less risk.

    October 28, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al

      They have a program for the GPS wristbands right here in Spotsylvania. It's free for qualifying families through the Sheriff's office. You just have to pay for replacement batteries. The Free Lance Star recently did an article on them. My bet is that this family will be signing up for one very shortly.

      October 28, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emily

      Interesting. Not a terrible idea.

      October 28, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diane


      October 28, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Virginia Beach Police Dept has a similar program and my 10 yo autistic son has an ankle tracking device the size of a watch. It's non-GPS, low freq, so it works inside buildings.

      October 28, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Crazy


    October 28, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      There's nothing to cure. They arn't a diseased race of mutants.

      October 28, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcp

      VERY complicated issue. I wouldn't trade my son for ANYTHING but......if there were a "cure" for his crippling lack of social / communication skills I'd be ALL OVER IT!

      October 28, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steve

    Why does it have to be autistic boy found alive like the only thing that defines him is that he is autistic? Autism is a disease, rather natural human variation.

    October 28, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve


      October 28, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • sheppard

      I just took it as it was harder to find him because he didn't/couldn't speak. If he were a deaf child I'm sure that would have been in the headline. Why do you assume this was done for a 'bad' reason?

      October 28, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcp

      It's just that "person first" language should be the norm. I think that is all Steve is saying. I would comment the same if they used "deaf boy" is improper english as it defines the person by the condition they have. It's the same with the "R" word (except the R word is exponentially worse). You can use the word retarded or retard properly without offending anyone (my son's autism retards his social skills or my son's ability to communicate has been retarded by autism) but it is generally hurled as an invective.

      October 28, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Betty Phillips

    I have an autistic granddaughter, she is the light of my eye! I could only wish that I had her intellegence!!!! She does not talk as much as you and I, HOWEVER, I have seen her take toys apart and put them back together including the smallest part, she can organize any room, drawer, chest or whatever, nothing seems to be a problem for her. To look at her you would never suspect there was a Autistic problem and that alone can be the biggest problem of all, there are so many evil and crazy people that prey on these children. My granddaughter will go shopping with me, her mother or aunts and she is well know, why? because if something is out of place on a shelf, you can bet she has it back in order before leaving the store. I only wish you could meet her, she is no doubt one of the best looking little girls (she is now a teenager) and she could be a model, she has been (her mother was asked) to enter this girl into beauty pagents, but, my daughter says no, there would be too much concern. So do not think an Autistic child is retarded, shame on anyone who would even let that thought cross your mind. Those children just need lots of love, that is exactly what they survive on and such a joy to be around. I only wish I could show you a photo here...... Betty Phillips

    October 28, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      There is a growing misconception in our society that autistic individuals are "retarded" which is far from the truth. They are truly remarkable people. More research is needed!

      October 28, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • bill

      Betty, we are both very proud grandparents

      October 28, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • tcp

      There is no such thing as a retarded person or a retard...PERIOD!

      October 28, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kelly

    Nice parenting Lora. Do you also laugh when your children are bullied in school for their differences? Do you like when people call disabled children retards? Haha its so funny! I do understand, i have 2 children with autism. I laugh when they do something cute NOT when people make fun of them. There is not anything funny about a "wanderer". They get lost often, its constant fear. They can drown or die of exposure. Hilarious huh? My 10 year old with aspergers is constantly bullied at school for walking on his tiptoes. I get to see him cry daily thanks to people like Kevin so you will have excuse me if i don't find making fun of disabled children a reason to chuckle. You are the one who doesn't understand.

    October 28, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • maria993

      my worst fear is that my son (age 5 diagnosed as autistic) might "wander" off when at school,
      agree w/ you, we need to stand strong for our children,
      these apes who are cruel /ignorant and call names they seem to feel so righteous in their "normality"

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