UPDATE: Nonverbal child with autism found safe after more than 5 hours in the woods

Nonverbal child with autism found safe after more than 5 hours in the woods

MOSS POINT, Miss. (WLOX) - A young boy is now safe thanks to the efforts of several agencies and multiple volunteers who spent hours Tuesday searching for him in Moss Point.

Seven-year-old Carson went missing around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday outside the Comfort Inn just off the interstate on Highway 63 in Moss Point.

Police say seven-year-old Carson ran away from the area of Cracker Barrel/Comfort Inn near Interstate 10 at exit 69.
Police say seven-year-old Carson ran away from the area of Cracker Barrel/Comfort Inn near Interstate 10 at exit 69. (Source: Moss Point Police Department)

An alert from police sent out around 1:30 p.m. said they believed the child was wearing a pull-up diaper and nothing else.

After a search that lasted more than five hours and brought out dozens of volunteers and multiple agencies, Carson was found by a deputy in a wooded area over a half-mile from where he was last seen.

“He appears to be fine, a little shaken up but overall, he appears to be doing very well,” said Delaney Waltman with Moss Point Police Department shortly after Carson was found.

It was a difficult search with a large area of woods to cover. Making it even more difficult: Carson has autism and is nonverbal.

As the sun started to set, the concern grew even greater. Just before it got completely dark at 6:30 p.m., a deputy located Carson in an abandoned house on Sutton Avenue.

After a search that brought out canines and helicopters to look for the boy, first responders and family members were grateful to see Carson emerge from the woods with no visible injuries.

“I’m super happy that we found him before dark,” said Waltman. “I could just imagine a 7 year old out here by himself.”

As soon as the alert went out that Carson was missing, officers from multiple agencies took up the call. Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Mississippi Highway Patrol, Moss Point and Pascagoula fire departments, the Coast Guard, Mississippi Bureau of Investigations and the Department of Transportation all joined Moss Point Police Department, who led the search efforts.

Dozens of residents who live in the area and several Good Samaritans also pitched in, showing up to full of concern for the child.

“Since 2:30, we have been searching, riding around, and then we made three trips in the woods,” said Moss Point resident Bridget Campbell. “This baby needs to be found.”

Several of the Carson’s family members also showed up to help, full of anxiety and worry for the small child.

“We talked to people from all over the coast that came out to help at the moment that they heard (Carson was missing),” said the boy’s grandfather Tonny Tanner.

Tanner said they are so grateful for everyone’s help and even more thankful that Carson was found safe.

“Just thankful that he is safe. Everybody continue to pray for these kids,” said Tanner.

Carson was taken by ambulance to Singing River Hospital as a precaution to make sure he was okay, said authorities.

According to Carson’s family, he was in the custody of a caretaker with Child Protective Services when he went missing.

CPS has not confirmed whether or not Carson was in their care.

“I wish that we could provide a comment but MS State Law prohibits MDCPS from commenting on any case not involving a child death or a near death event. We are not even allowed to acknowledge whether or not a child is in our custody," stated an email sent overnight Tuesday from Lea Brandon, the communications director for Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services.

WLOX is working to learn more about the circumstances of how Carson ran away.

LIVE REPORT: Moss Point police searching for runaway special needs child

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