Police: Boy with autism ran from home, located safe in wooded area

Teenager found after search

GREENFIELD — A teen with special needs wandered away from his Greenfield home Tuesday morning and was missing for a half hour before he was found, safe, by police.

Officers from several area law enforcement agencies flocked to the Prairie Meadows apartment complex, located on West U.S. 40, after a woman called 911 to say the 16-year-old, who has severe intellectual disabilities, had run away from his home, according to police broadcasts.

Area police K9 teams, including one from a neighboring county, were called to assist with the search. A helicopter and drone were about to take to the sky when the teen was found in a wooded area behind the apartment complex, about three-quarters of a mile from his home.

The teen’s caregiver called police around 11 a.m.

She told dispatchers the teen, who has autism, became angry with her that morning and ran from his home, which sits near the northern edge of the apartment complex. He took off into a nearby field before she was able to stop him, the woman told police.

He was wearing only a diaper and a T-shirt at the time, officials said.

The field the teen ran into is covered in tall brush and trees. A small creek runs through the area, and officers were concerned for the boy’s safety, Greenfield Police Chief Jeff Rasche said.

Immediately, police began to search the area on foot, canvassing the field for the teen.

Members of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department’s five-officer K9 unit were called to complex to help. A Shelbyville officer and his bloodhound were also dispatched to the scene, police said.

Medics from the Greenfield Fire Territory were sent, as well, in case the teen was injured, officials said.

An officer eventually spotted the boy in the field around 11:30 a.m. and was able to bring him back home to his family. The teen was not injured.

Now, Greenfield officers will follow up with the family to help connect them with services in the area that might be able to help the teen further, Rasche said.

Officers’ priority in situations like these is to make sure the person with special needs is calm and properly cared for. Rasche said he was glad officers were able to locate the teen safely.

“The last thing we want is for someone to get hurt,” Rasche said.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.