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. Crazy

    ALL DOCTORS LISTEN TO ME!!! WHEN IS THERE GOING TO BE A CURE FOR AUTISM!? DO YOU THINK I'M PSYCHO!?

    October 28, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Theresa DeLaughter

      There cannot be a cure until they can find out what causes it.

      October 28, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. RUFFNUTT (pit bull trainer)

    eat my dick you little whinny baby...

    October 28, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. GNP

    It is hard to believe that it took FIVE days to find him, while the boy was missing in the general area of where he was last seen!

    October 28, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Theresa DeLaughter

      My husband was on the search party for 4 days. The woods there are very dense and they had an average of 1200 volunteers a day. It was the area he was in that was the problem.

      October 28, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Theresa DeLaughter

    I hope that you realize by that comment alone you to would need to be tagged.

    October 28, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Crazy

    ASK THE DOCTORS WHEN IS THERE GOING TO BE A CURE FOR AUTISM!! LISTEN TO ME!!!

    October 28, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Laurie

    Praise God and all those who searched for this little boy.

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

    So happy to hear that he was found safe and unharmed. Poor baby! He must have been so frightened, not to mention his family. It is so nice to read good news every now and then.

    October 28, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bill

    First of all thank God the boy was found. Secondly, the other day I read a CNN article about the "distingushing" facial charaterists of autostic children. When I saw the picture of this boy he looks exactly like my grandson. I am so proud of my grandson. He is in his own world alot of times, but what a great time he has. He is 8 years old and really excels in Math. I asked him what are you doing in math these days and he says "paramiters", I say "What", to funny.

    October 28, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Crazy

    SHUT UP CHRISTEN!!!

    October 28, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bill

    Shame on you Phil. As if it isn't enough to have to deal with the difficulties of this disorder every minute of the day, we have to also deal with insensitive, ignorant remarks like that. Luckily I have built up plenty of immunity to cruel jerks like you.

    October 28, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. agonyflips

    I'm very happy to hear this outcome. I've worried the same about my 5 year old non-verbal son taking off.

    People with normal children don't realize that you never get a chance to let your guard down, as you always have to look out for your spouse as it only takes a second when your second normal child takes your attention, and then your autistic child at the park decides to take off. Mine loves to swim, so we have to be careful cause he WILL go in the lake, in river, ponds etc., if we don't stop him, even if it's cold.

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

    @ Crazy: i find that comment that you posted stating clearly " ALL PEOPLE WITH AUTISM SHOULD DIE!" very offensive. You need to realize that autism may be a disorder in the eyes of doctors and this society of ours and that it causes some challenges for the parents of autistic children but autistic people are just as human as anyone else. Honestly you need to reassess your values and how you view other people because you never know someone you know very well a friend maybe or a family member may be autistic. Please change your outlook it makes for a better discussion on topics such as this.

    October 28, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • sanni

      whm evr it ws tht posted tht negativ remark abt autistik ppl shold die shold goe an crawle intu a hol an nevr com out we ppl whm liv wth autism struggl everidae just tu gt thru everydae an thos whm sae we ar retardede fale tu se tht einstein wsd on ourspectrum

      October 28, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. monalisamom

    Boy,some of you ppl on here are idiots......Anyway,so glad this little boy is safe.Was going to volunteer tomorrow since i live kinda close.....someone's prayer was answered.....

    October 28, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cindy

    I am very happy to hear that this child was found alive and well. However, as a speech-language pathologist, I feel like I should clarify a comment I read by Scottish Mama. I work with students on the autism spectrum every day, and want to point out that Steve Jobs did not invent the means by which many people with autism communicate. Augmentative communication has been around for many years, and the iPad and it's many apps are simplly another, new tool being used to support and expand the language of those who cannot communicate verbally. it is certainly very useful with some people, but not all. The point of this news story is the great news of finding a missing child, one with autism or not.

    October 28, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. people first

    person first – not "Autistic Boy", Boy with Autism. Please treat people as people not what ails them first.

    October 28, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Autistic people are still people, word orientation to me seems equally valid. Some might find the 'with autism' descriptor offensive as well as there are many who don't consider themselves or others as 'having an autistic ailment' but rather 'are autistic', and not all view themselves as damaged goods or even acknowledge autism as a condition separate from the 'self', and not only high functioning people have this viewpoint as some may think.

      October 28, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
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