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.)

Comments (12)
  1. Jonas says:

    I see a lawsuit coming against the school……get ready taxpayers!

    1. vicgalindo says:

      There should be… The school is totally responsible!!!!

      1. vicgalindo says:

        I meant to say the school should be. That gate should have never been left open for an autistic child to walk out of. This is truly sad…

      2. SeaCay says:

        Where did you get a gate left open? I’m reading “squeazed through a fence”. Obviously, you’re an attorney.

  2. LISA says:


    1. SeaCay says:

      And you know this because of your tireless work with autistic children or did it just occur to you between bon bon’s while sitting on the couch?

  3. Dee says:

    I work with a child with autism and it only takes a sneeze for them to be out of your sight.. With that being siad I agree that gate should have never been left open knowing this childs track record…Praying for the family

  4. laurie209 says:

    Praying for the safe return for this child and his family.

  5. B. Lee says:

    And who is responsible for the costs associated with the search?

    It should not be the taxpayers! Negligence is negligence.

  6. Maggie says:

    One of my autistic sons was a “runner”. Thankfully, I have other adult children that could help watch him during moves, etc. He’s grown out of it now, thank God! It breaks my heart that this boy was taken from his family because they did what had to be done for his safety. The most difficult thing for an autistic child is change. If Social Services gave a damn about this boy, they could figure something else out. Then, to entice him out of hiding with recordings of his daddy’s voice, only to take him away from him again…My God, disgusting. My heart is just broken for this family.

  7. donna gannon says:

    This is a concern for every family with an autistic child put in school. My daughter will not allow her son to go on school trips with her. The teachers think they know what they are dealing with by having 2 autistic grandchildren is difficult. When something interests them they will zone in on it until there distracted from it.

  8. Becky says:

    I think CPS should hold some of the responsibility for this little boy running off. If CPS had actually considered that tethering the boy while the parents were busy moving their household possessions was a means of protecting him, rather than removing him from his parents this may never have happened. CPS should really focus on children in real danger…

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