About four hours after he was reported missing Monday, Jan. 23, a 12-year-old Pierron boy was found unharmed after having walked to Highland, approximately six miles away.
“He didn’t go down the road. He cut cross-country from Pierron to Walmart,” Highland-Pierron Fire Chief Steve Plocher said.
The boy had been reported missing by his mother at 5:14 p.m. About an hour later, the Bond County Sheriff’s Department requested the assistance of the Highland-Pierron Fire Department in the search.
The fire department began searching through the streets of Pierron and then expanded the search to the rural area outside of Pierron. A neighbor reported seeing the boy climbing a tree earlier in the evening, which steered the search west of Pierron, along a creek. Multiple ATVs staffed with first-responders utilizing flashlights and thermal-imaging cameras swept the area where the boy was believed to be.
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Illinois Search and Rescue was also contacted for more help, including additional personnel and air support. About 85 people, many firefighters from nearby departments, eight fire trucks, seven ATVs, a helicopter and an airplane scoured the countryside.
“They had dogs lined up to go out, too. But by the time that was all arranged, they had located him,” Plocher said.
It was Facebook that ultimately led to the boy being located.
“It ended up that it was social media that basically found him,” Plocher said.
A rural subdivision that lies between Pierron and Highland has its own Facebook page, Plocher said, and had posted about the search. A woman who lives in that subdivision and had seen the post was in Highland shopping and recognized the boy. She called Highland police, who took the boy to the Highland Police Department.
“It was in the parking lot at Walmart is where he was found,” Plocher said.
At the police department, the boy was evaluated by EMS and found to be in good health, and he was reunited with his parents.