NORTHWOOD, Iowa – Deputy Zach Schrupp’s first call Monday morning was quite a way to start the day.
“The person that flagged us down left within a matter of seconds after flagging us down so we didn’t know where the kid was supposed to be, where he came from, who it was, so it was pretty confusing for a couple minutes,” said Deputy Schrupp.
According to Schrupp, the three year old toddler wandered from his house, all the way to the Casey’s General Store nearly three blocks away. He had to cross one of main street’s busiest intersections in Northwood, and was found walking along the sidewalk right next to Highway 65. That’s where law enforcement found him, at the gas station.
“He was acting like a normal three year old. He had a mountain dew bottle that he wanted to drink out of. He said he was cold, it was a little chilly this morning,” said Schrupp.
The sheriff’s office had not received a report of a missing toddler, so the next task on the list was finding the boy’s parents. Thankfully the county’s Worth Alert system was activated and a neighbor who received the call was able to put her memory to the test and helped identify the young child.
Joel Rohne is in charge of the alert system, and says this is a big day.
“Why I think it proves the concept, its good in this day and age to have a communication system that reaches to your phones, emails, text, cell phones, because not everyone had a land line,” said Rohne.
Folks in surrounding counties also received the alert. He says while that may have been a glitch, there is nothing wrong with being a little too careful. He adds that goes for parents as well.
“Lock your doors, pay attention to your kids. The parents had no idea the kid was gone, and didn’t know until they were notified by a neighbor who got the Worth Alert,” said Schrupp.
The neighbor that called the description of the boy in, ended up calling the sheriff’s office multiple times in hopes of identifying the right toddler. She and law enforcement say he just did a similar run-away from home last week.
Law enforcement still isn’t sure how the boy got out of his house. However, they say DHS is involved, but at this time no charges are pending.