CAMDEN, N.J. (WTXF) – Two police officers in Camden County are receiving praise for helping a young boy with Autism find his way home. The boy was spotted wandering Walt Whitman Park. He couldn’t communicate to the officers where he lived and that’s when the officers used their detective skills to figure it out.
He’s just 5, he’s autistic and, the other day, Daniel Lugo woke up early and wandered away from his home in Camden. He walked out the front door, down the street and kept going. His parents were still sleeping. Someone saw him and called the police.
“My partner was approached by an area resident with the kid telling him, ‘Hey I got this kid. I don’t know him from my area. He’s running around,’” said Officer Vidal Rivera.
Patrolman Rivera and his partner approached the boy, but he couldn’t tell them anything. They knocked on a few doors, but no one knew the boy.
“He happen to have an iPad in his hand, but it was dead. So, we said let’s give this thing some juice. Maybe figure it out, maybe there was a picture that would show another person,” Patrolman Rivera said.
No luck with that, but they tried something else. The tablet was connected to WiFi, so they started searching for signal strength walking up and down the streets with the device.
“We got one bar, so we thought were closer. Then two bars – we’re here, we’re close. Then we got that third bar and we said it has to be within this immediate area,” Patrolman Rivera explained.
Sure enough, they found Daniel’s home and brought him inside.
“He doesn’t communicate with people, he doesn’t talk. I honestly want to thank them for actually helping my brother get home safe,” said Alyiha Colon, Daniel’s sister.
“It’s extremely commendable. They were creative, they used resources, they were determined, they were not gonna give up,” said Captain Gabriel Camacho with the Camden County Police.
It ended well. Daniel’s parents say Daniel unlocked two locks to get out while everyone was sleeping. In this situation, it was a good thing the boy had the tablet with him.