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Five-year-old boy found wandering alone along CR 73 just before storm last week

by Teresa Eubanks, Journal Editor

A five-year-old boy found wandering alone along CR 73A last week was picked up by a Calhoun County deputy for safekeeping until his family could be located.

The child, covered in dirt and wearing nothing but underwear, was discovered by a passing motorist around 4:15 p.m. on Feb. 7, according to a report from the sheriff’s office.  The motorist wrapped the child in a blanket to keep him warm, called for help and waited for the deputy to arrive.   Less than an hour later a severe thunderstorm  hit the area and launched some dangerous straight line winds, knocking down trees and power lines.

The little boy knew his name but could tell them little else. According to the person who stopped to help, the youngster said “I fell out of a van.”  He could not tell anyone where he lived other than to say “many places.”

Deputy Patrick Fleming was still at the scene when a vehicle pulled up and the driver asked if a child had been seen walking along the roadside.  The deputy said a boy had been found and when he gave the child’s name, the man  - who said he was a friend of the family - said that’s who he was looking for.

The man left to get the child’s mother, who was visibly distraught.  She told the deputy she had been looking for the missing boy since 4 p.m. and was relieved to find him safe. He was about a quarter of a mile away from his home in Altha.

Before handing him over, the deputy asked the little boy to verify that the woman was his mother.  In a sworn statement about the events that led to the child’s disappearance, the mother said she left the boy in the care of his 19-year-old brother to go to Walmart in Marianna.  She said when she returned, she did a head count of her children and realized one was missing.

The brother who was in charge of the boy was playing video games with a friend when his other siblings got off the school bus and came in the house.  At that point, all of the children went in the back yard to play.  The older brother called them back inside sometime later.  The  five-year-old came in with the others but apparently managed to unlock the front door and slip away.

The incident is being investigated by the Department of Children and Families.

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