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October 29, 2011

And Then a Miracle Happened ...

Last Sunday, 8 year-old Robert Wood Jr. wandered away from his family while they were on an outing at North Anna Battlefield Park near Richmond, Virginia. He was found yesterday. Alive!

Eight-year-old Robert "Robbie" Wood, Jr. was found alive at approximately 2 p.m. Friday near a quarry about two miles outside of the wooded search area north of Richmond. It is possible that Robert crossed Verdon Road and wound up in the quarry, and that would explain why search crews found little evidence of the boy in the search grids.

A citizen who was not one of the volunteers in the search discovered the boy in what Hanover County Sheriff David Hines called a "creek bed" in the quarry area. He said authorities found him in a fetal position.

Wood was reunited with his family and flown to the hospital in good condition.

We'll likely never know what Robbie did for those six days because he has autism and doesn't speak. What we do know is that Robbie is very, very lucky. These incidents happen pretty regularly with kids like Robbie and there are two typical outcomes: in warm weather they drown, and in cold weather they freeze to death. Robbie got a little of both.

I have a little boy who's a lot like Robbie - right down to the age and the autism. When I left home for work yesterday, the last thing my wife and I talked about was whether I should head down there and help them search this weekend. They had thousands of volunteers already but one more couldn't hurt. Luckily that wasn't necessary.

This scenario is one that has worried us for years, but we've taken some good precautions. The best one is called Project Lifesaver, which uses LoJack technology to locate missing people. He wears a bracelet on his ankle (pictured) at all times. It emits a radio signal on a specific frequency, and, if he were to go missing, I have the Sheriff's department phone number, PIN, and the frequency stored in my iPhone.

The bad outcomes in these cases are mainly a function of the amount of time it takes to find the child - and especially so in cold weather. The average amount of time it has taken to locate people with the Project Lifesaver bracelet who were reported missing is around 30 minutes. If you or anyone you know could take advantage of this technology, I encourage you to look into it.

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posted by Andy at 10:15 AM

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