11/07/07 — High-tech gadgetry helped locate missing 4-year-old

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High-tech gadgetry helped locate missing 4-year-old

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on November 7, 2007 1:45 PM

Nestled away in a bean field, airborne police using heat-detection devices at first thought a 4-year-old Seven Springs area boy was a small animal, authorities say.

But the young Hines Crossroads area resident -- who has a mental handicap and communication problems -- would have eventually been found, Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders said. In fact, the approximately four-hour search on Saturday night holds lessons for law enforcement on why they should not give up when a child is reported missing, Winders said.

"Even though you think you've done it all, you need to keep looking more," Winders said of the Rouse Farm Road search.

Further searching involved calling out an agency with more expensive, high-powered equipment -- the Highway Patrol, which has a pricier thermal imaging system designed to ferret out missing, hiding or injured bodies.

Law enforcement can use thermal imagers from helicopters or planes or using other means to find anything that generates body heat.

Both the Sheriff's Office helicopter and the Highway Patrol helicopter, which had to be called from the western part of the state, were employed to find the boy,.

That was after a canine officer, Bloodhound, the Sheriff's Volunteer Posse Search Team and members of the Seven Springs and Pricetown fire departments had all lent a hand trying to find the 4-year-old, authorities said.

Deputies also had to respond to another child-related incident on Saturday, when a 3-year-old girl showed up in the driveway of a Gurley Dairy Road woman. Social Service workers were initially called, but the Sheriff's Office later learned that the family of the girl had reported her missing.

The sheriff said even with well-trained law enforcement searching, it's always a good idea to ask for help.

"Never be too proud to use every resource available," Winders said.