ST. GEORGE, Utah - A 5-year-old autistic boy who was found wandering the streets in St. George Thursday is now safe with his parents. Police say he slipped out of the house where the family was staying.
Officers got the call about 10:45 a.m. after a woman spotted the boy walking in the street near Dixie Drive and Sunset Boulevard without shoes on. The boy was non-verbal and couldn’t tell police where his parents were. They began to search the surrounding neighborhoods.
“We figured or hoped that the parents would contact us once they discovered their little boy missing,” said St. George Police Sergeant Sam Despain. “We started circulating through those neighborhoods, we used some social media channels."
After about 20 minutes, police did find the parents, who were out looking for the boy themselves. He’d gotten about three blocks from the home where the family was staying.
“It was not neglect by any means on the parents' part,” Despain said.
Despain said while they’re glad the situation ended safely, it does highlight the potential danger associated with a wandering child. St George PD offers a program called Project Lifesaver, which provides GPS trackers to individuals with special needs, like those with autism. That way family members always know where they are.
“I talked to them about it,” Despain said. “And told them about Project Lifesaver and what it does; they wished they’d had it where they live, but they don’t.”
Project Lifesaver is an international non-profit organization that partners with local law enforcement to offer the tracking service. To see if it’s offered in your area, you can check on their website.