LAKE ARROWHEAD (AP) — An 8-year-old boy with severe autism was found Tuesday after being lost and alone for more than 24 hours in the San Bernardino Mountains.
Joshua Robb appeared to be in good condition when search and rescue workers found him about a mile from the school he ran away from Monday, said Jodi Miller, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
“As you can imagine, he is tired but appears to be OK,” Miller said.
The boy was found when, at about 2:27 p.m., he came out from behind some brush and walked toward team members.
“Joshua looked up at the team members and said, `Thank you. You saved me,”‘ Miller said.
Joshua was given food and water by search and rescue workers until he could be transported by helicopter to Loma Linda Medical Center for a precautionary exam.
About 60 searchers from four counties, aided by dogs and helicopters, scoured the mountain area in the search for the boy, playing recorded music and his father’s voice in hopes of luring him to safety.
Searchers were concerned because the boy was dressed only in a polo shirt, shorts and sandals — and it was a chilly night.
In addition, a storm lashed the Twin Peaks area of Lake Arrowhead with lightning and heavy rain Tuesday morning.
It was feared that the boy, who has little speech ability, might not respond to a stranger’s voice or to public address calls from a helicopter, so searchers set up systems at some locations to play his father’s voice along with his favorite country and heavy metal music, including songs by Ozzy Osbourne, San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said.
It was not immediately clear whether the musical measures resulted in Joshua’s rescue.
Joshua squeezed between the bars of a metal playground fence at Grandview Elementary School on Monday morning, said John Elderkin, director for special services at the school.
Minutes later, a playground aide noticed he was missing. A teacher checked classrooms, but the boy had vanished and authorities were notified.
Joshua is prone to running away and in previous years the school has placed a tether on him when he is escorted between classrooms, Elderkin said.
However, the boy had not run away in the three weeks since the new school year began.
His family was forced out of their home last month by a foreclosure proceeding. The parents lost custody of Joshua after a real estate agent noticed the boy was tied to the house, his father said.
“We had to lightly tether him while we were moving stuff out of our house,” his father, Ron Robb, told KNBC. “We know for a fact that the reason he escaped was because he was trying to look for mom and dad.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)