BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - A 12-year-old Byron Township boy is safe and sound after he went missing for nine hours.
Quenton Moomey has autism and wandered off Tuesday night. The Kent County Sheriff's Department launched a search involving deputies, a K-9 unit and state police helicopter.
At round 8 a.m. Wednesday, a local dairy farmer noticed the cows in his pasture were acting strange. He checked it out and found Quenton wandering nearby.
"I'm just glad he's home and I want to thank everybody for helping me find him," said his mother Julie Moomey. "It was a long night. ... I'm going to go hug him and clean him and make sure he can't do this again."
What happens when a frantic parents of a missing child with autism call Kent County 911 emergency operators? Kent County Sheriff's Department officials explained the process step-by-step.
Autism is a frustrating, confusing condition. In some cases, children with autism wander. When they do and the phones at Kent County 911 light up, dispatchers often go to a book.
"We're soon to be going online with this, but right now we have a book, and they'd open up to the particular person," Kent County sheriff's Sgt. Corey Luce said.
The book is just one piece of Project Life Saver, a program that provides vital information on the missing person to police agencies including the radio frequency connected to a tracking bracelet worn by the missing child.
"Get the frequency, put it into the unit and we receive a signal. It will be no time before we find that person," Luce said.
Queten Moomey is not in the Project Life Saver program.
But the information the project provides, and outside experts brought in to train police agencies throughout Kent County on the best ways to track missing autistic children, have been extremely valuable in letting officers know the right question to ask when a search begins.
"Today's child didn't want their name yelled. That was something that was going to scare them. We know some kids; we need to know they would want to go near water; maybe they're afraid of a railroad tracks; do not touch their right arm." said Kent County Undersheriff Jon Hess, describing some of the special precautions searchers have to take when dealing with autistic children.
Autism Support of Kent County would like to get more kids into Project Life Saver and possibly expand the program to cover Alzheimer's patients and other who go missing.
But the organization has just one volunteer to do the require monthly battery checks on the bracelets. It needs more help and is looking for volunteers.
Autism Support of Kent County website
Autism Support of Kent County on Facebook
Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
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