I am the mother of an 11-year-old autistic boy and live in McDuffie County. My son got out of our home on July 14 and got lost in the woods near my home. I called the McDuffie Sheriff's Office and was told they had officers on the way; 35 minutes later, one officer shows up.
In the meantime, I called the Harlem Department of Public Safety to notify them since I live just outside Harlem but in McDuffie County. I was told the best I could do for my son was to contact the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, which I did. They responded with, I believe, five to seven cruisers and a K-9 unit.
After several hours my son was found by the K-9 unit from Columbia County. At some point a second McDuffie County deputy showed up. I honestly don't know how many Columbia County units showed up because they were lined so far down my driveway I couldn't see them all. If it weren't for the Columbia County deputies, there is no doubt my son wouldn't have been found.
I believe they did such a superb job because of their training with the new tracking system they have. (My son doesn't have one of their devices.) This training, I believe, helped them understand what autism is and how to deal with autistic children. They brought my son home safely. He had lots of scratches and bruises and scrapes but he had no major injuries, and he was treated with such knowledge of his condition.
I think the public deserves to know that the tax money invested into this system and training worked without any problems and helped save my son's life. I fully believe these officers were true heroes and the public needs to know that our disabled and handicap citizens are safe with them around. And I am very grateful they were willing to respond when I called them even though I don't live in their county. Such professional care, starting with their dispatcher all the way to the K-9 dog and the deputies, could not have been any more perfect.
The citizens of Columbia County are very lucky. I only wish we McDuffie County citizens could say the same thing.
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