ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A 14-year-old boy who is mentally challenged and suffers from Asperger's syndrome was found safe Tuesday evening following a nearly six-hour search, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.
The boy, who goes by the name Kendrick but answers to "Stacey," got into an altercation with a staff member at the Beacon of Hope School, on Kings Estate Road near County Road 207 just southwest of St. Augustine, and ran off about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, deputies said.
Deputy Lauren LeDoux found Kendrick just before 10 p.m. in the nearby Deerfield Preserve neighborhood.
"Just as I was getting ready to exit the neighborhood, I went to exit the last loop, where there’s no homes yet being built back there on Green Turtle Lane. I saw some culverts and when I drove back I saw two hands in the air. I drove straight to it." LeDoux said. "He said, 'My name is Kendrick.' And he seemed to be perfectly fine. He was just hanging out in the culvert area."
Kendrick was then reunited with his family.
"Thank God we found him. He’s safe. He’s secure," LeDoux said. "It’s the holiday, nobody wants to miss their kid."
The Sheriff's Office said 20 deputies were called to search the wooded area near the school on foot and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office helicopter assisted in the search for Kendrick, who functions at the level of an 8-year-old.