Area police converge to rescue Howard child with autism

A lost 10-year-old Clarksville boy with autism who wandered away from home earlier this week was rescued in a cooperative effort between Anne Arundel County police, Howard County police, Howard County fire and rescue, Montgomery County police and the Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission police, according to a Howard police news release.

The boy, Phillip, of the 13800 block of Wayside Drive, was reported missing at 1:55 p.m. on Aug. 18 by his mother, Karin Swenson. 

The residence adjoins the WSSC Triadelphia Reservoir property, prompting a search of the large wooded areas surrounding it. The Howard County Police Department’s Aviation Unit was deployed and a search for the boy began, assisted by Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, Montgomery County police and WSSC police, according to the release.

After about two hours, the boy was located by aviation personnel who directed ground units to the boy’s location at the base of the Brighton Dam, police said. The joint Howard County/Anne Arundel County flight crew consisted of two pilots and a tactical flight officer.

A police corporal waded into the water to rescue the boy, who was evaluated by paramedics and found to be healthy and unharmed, police said. 

“When our son Phillip was missing and we had to call in help to find him, my husband and I were impressed by the cooperation of the first responders from four different jurisdictions: Howard County, Anne Arundel County, Montgomery County and the WSSC,” Swenson said in a statement. “What a shining example of cooperation and teamwork without ego. My husband and I are so thankful for all four jurisdictions, and their first responders, who seamlessly coordinated to find our son.” 

Howard County police have been working with the Anne Arundel County Police Department since 1999 when the Aviation Unit was developed. Both police departments participate in the operation of the Aviation Unit, sharing equipment and personnel under a mutual aid agreement., according to a release.

“The flight that located Phillip is a perfect example of what we can accomplish when we work together,” said Howard County Police Chief William McMahon in a statement.

Anne Arundel County Police Chief Kevin Davis echoed McMahon. 

“This case highlights the importance of collaborative partnerships between law enforcement agencies,” Davis said in a statement. “I fully support and understand the importance of sharing resources across jurisdictional boundaries to better serve the public.” 

The police department has partnered with the Howard County Autism Society on several recent initiatives to address autism and safety, according to the news release. 

"While it may not be possible to prevent wandering from occurring, we encourage families to be proactive," said Beth Benevides, a board member of the Howard County Autism Society. "By voluntarily 'flagging' one's address in the Call Center database, families provide first responders very specific, first-hand knowledge of the person with autism. This information can make a tremendous difference in the success of a rescue." 


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