An 8-year-old boy with severe autism was found Tuesday after being missing 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.
Joshua was given food and water by search and rescue workers until a medic could be lowered by helicopter to assess his health and he is airlifted out of the area.
About 60 searchers from four counties, aided by dogs and helicopters, scoured the mountain area in the search, playing recorded music and his father’s voice in hopes of luring him to safety.
The boy was dressed only in a polo shirt, shorts and sandals — and it was a cold night. There was also a heavy rain storm with lightening in the area on 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. It it not 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. Several 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 father, Ron Robb, said the boy had been taken into protective custody last month, and he strongly suspects he ran away from school to find his parents. “He’s always been a flight risk,” said Robb.
Robb said the family was forced out of their home last month by a foreclosure proceeding. He told NBC Los Angeles that a real estate agent called government officials after noticing that the boy had been restrained.
“We had to lightly tether him while we were moving stuff out of our house. We are quite sure the reason he escaped was because he was trying to look for mom and dad.