The little boy was found hiding alone 'less than a mile away' from his home
A child with autism who went missing over the weekend has been safely found thanks to a GPS bracelet he was wearing.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office in Tampa, Florida shared an update on Monday regarding a little boy who had been reported missing. According to the office's Facebook post, the search began for the “9-year-old child with autism” just before 6 p.m. on Sunday.
“With the invaluable assistance of SafetyNet — a program utilizing GPS-equipped bracelets — HCSO's SafetyNet team was able to find the child, hiding behind a building's A/C unit, safe and unharmed,” the post read.
On November 26, 2023, #teamHCSO responded to the report of a missing child with autism.
Using SafetyNet-a program utilizing GPS-equipped bracelets- deputies able to find the child, hiding behind a building's A/C unit, safe and unharmed.
View details: https://t.co/FtKWPCMMkj pic.twitter.com/cWCYcJPuJd
— HCSO (@HCSOSheriff) November 27, 2023
In body camera footage shared by the sheriff’s office, two team members were seen approaching the back area of a home in Ruskin. As they came upon the rear door, the second deputy was heard off-camera spotting the child.
“Oh hey, buddy! Here ya go!” he said, walking up to the little boy who was crouched behind the house’s air conditioning system.
His partner joined him as he continued to call for the child to come to him. After a few moments, the child emerged. Holding the hand of the deputy who located him, he left with the two uniformed officials.
The 9-year-old was found about .02 miles away from home, reports News Channel 8.
"I am incredibly proud of our deputies' responsiveness and expertise that were instrumental in this successful recovery operation," Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement.
"Their dedication to ensuring the safety of our community, especially vulnerable individuals like this child, is truly commendable," Chronister continued. "SafetyNet has proven to be a lifesaving tool, and I couldn't be more thankful for our strong partnership."
The bracelet is part of a program for people with cognitive conditions like autism, dementia or Alzheimer's, reports Fox 13. The HCSO SafetyNet team responded to the home and was able to quickly detect the child's Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) signal to assist in their search.
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Officials recommend the device for families or individuals who may require added assistance.
"SafetyNet is incredibly easy to register for parents or just caregivers for anyone with any cognitive disability can go on and register this person, and then they're given a GPS bracelet. In this case, this GPS bracelet helped us find this child within 20 minutes," said Jessica Lang, a spokesperson with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
"Our deputies' dedication in this investigation was incredible," Lange continued. "They knew there was a missing child with autism. You can imagine that child might be scared in an unknown neighborhood. And thankfully, this child is found unharmed. Less than a mile away."
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