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North Carolina police officer saves autistic child in creek

May 20, 2022 GMT

SYLVA, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina police officer is being hailed for saving a 4-year-old autistic boy who authorities say was “up to his shoulders” in a fast-moving creek.

The Sylva Police Department says on its Facebook page that the parents of the child called this week to say their son had wandered away from home. Police officers, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and private citizens joined in a search for the lost child, police said.

Thursday’s Facebook post didn’t say exactly when the boy disappeared from their home, and police didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking additional comment on Friday.

Among those involved in the search was Officer Jacob Waldroup, the department’s 2021 officer of the year, police said. Waldroup was off-duty and leaving court when he heard about the missing child, police said.

During the search, a citizen heard crying in an area near a creek and about a mile from the boy’s home. Waldroup went to the area and found the boy in the moving water. Police said he jumped into the creek and brought the boy to safety.

Police say the boy wasn’t hurt, but was taken to a local hospital to be examined.