ONEIDA, Tenn. (WATE) – A four-year-old girl is home safe in Oneida thanks to law enforcement officers and a mom who took quick action.
Last weekend, a Scott County mom noticed her child was missing and immediately called 911. It’s a scary thought for any parent, you look away for a few moments and your child disappears.
The Scott County Sheriff’s Office credited the quick actions of the child’s mother with saving her life.
“I got a two-year-old myself, I was very, very anxious to find the child,” Sergeant Chris Russell with the Scott County Sheriff’s Office said.
Russell said that time is of the essence when a child goes missing.
Last week, the sheriff’s office received a call from a frantic mother who said her four-year-old daughter who is autistic had disappeared from their home.
“Being autistic, she is really energetic and she likes to run around but we’ve always been able to keep her within the house or within the yard whenever we’re outside,” father Jordan Harness said. “This is the first time that she’s ever been able to get away from us.”
Harness said minutes felt like hours as officers searched the area.
“I expected the worst,” he explained. “I guess any parent would, but it was just a few minutes and the police department called me back and said that they found our daughter and it was a big relief for me.”
“When I found her she was in the pond, actually splashing, playing and I just picked her up and handed her to another OPD (Oneida Police Department) officer,” Sergeant Russell said.
Sergeant Russell says the girl’s head was wet like she had been under the water but was unharmed. Her parents were relieved.
“I think I cried like a baby on the phone to the police officer whenever he told me,” Harness said.
Seargent Russell is commending Mom for calling for help immediately.
“I’m not the hero,” Russell said. “The mom is. She called 911 pretty soon after she noticed the child was missing.”
Harness is proud of his wife too. “Like my wife did just act immediately and don’t waste time.”
“The fact that they went all in and didn’t waste any time. I think that was a matter of life and death. And I really appreciate their service.”
According to the CDC, about half of children and youth with autism were reported to wander.
Of those children, 1 in 4 were missing long enough to cause concern and were most commonly in danger of drowning or traffic injury.
Some steps parents can take to keep their children safe are to secure your home with fences and door locks.
And, just as this mom did, if your child goes missing call 911 immediately.