SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - When a non-verbal, Autistic 10-year-old boy went missing on Wednesday evening, a Nixle advisory helped to bring Ethan back home to his family. South Brunswick resident Fazil Syed found the child in the woods along Kingston Lane to help give this story a happy ending. Syed headed out to join the search for the child after receiving a Nixle advisory from the South Brunswick Police Department.
"We had dozens of police, firefighters, EMS searching along with a helicopter, but it was the use of our Nixle system combined with Mr. Syed’s actions that finally found him,” said South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka.
Ethan went missing at around 7:15 p.m. when he left his home to follow his father who had just left to go to the store. Doorbell video showed the boy running out of the home at 7:17 p.m. When his parents realized Ethan was missing, they immediately alerted the South Brunswick Police Department. The department went into action with a large scale search that involved police officers, firefighters and EMS. Searchers performed a backyard by backyard search, going street by street in the area where Ethan went missing. The New Jersey State Police joined the search, utilizing a helicopter to scan nearby ponds and water locations while school officials coordinated updated information on the child.
A Nixle advisory went out to the community notifying residents about a missing 10-year-old boy. Syed was watching television when he noticed the advisory on his smartphone. He decided to head out and help with the search.
"I grabbed my jacket and a flashlight and began to check the area," Syed explained. "Initially I went in one direction, but did not see anything, so I decided to check towards the library. I spotted a child standing near the wood line on Kingston Lane. I called out to him, but got no response. As I crossed the street I called out again, and Ethan came running towards me and gave me a big hug. I immediately called 911 to say I found him."
Ethan was checked out by EMS personnel due to his exposure to the cold temperatures Wednesday evening. He was then taken home to his anxious parents.
“This was the outcome we had all hoped for," Hayducka said. "By using our Nixle system we expanded our searchers from 50 to 29,000, and we found him. We all knew with the falling temperatures and the amount of time he had been missing, time was of the essence.”
Residents can sign up to receive Nixle advisories from the South Brunswick Police Department by visiting the South Brunswick Township website. Nixle is a free service that launched in 2007 and is used by law enforcement agencies and local government to help get information out to the public in the event of an emergency or in this case a missing child.
Hayducka also thanked everyone who helped out in Wednesday evening's search for Ethan, including the Monmouth Junction, Kendall Park, Kingston Fire Departments; South Brunswick EMS, Monmouth Junction First Aid, South Brunswick School District, New Jersey State Police and the Middlesex County Prosecutors Office.