The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
“Prayers were answered”
When Robert Wood Jr. saw his mother yesterday for the first time in more than five days, he smiled.
The 8-year-old Caroline County boy had been missing in the woods since Sunday, but was found alive and well yesterday by an unidentified citizen that was not on the official search team, police said.
Hanover County Sheriff David Hines said the boy, who goes by Robbie, was spotted around 2 p.m. Friday afternoon about 50 yards into the woods near the Martin Marietta rock quarry in Hanover, about a mile northwest of the park where he went missing.
“He was alert,” Hines said and described his condition as “serious, but in good shape” when they found him.
Caroline Sheriff Tony Lippa said Robbie was lying down in the fetal position when they arrived. He said Robbie was fully clothed, but missing a shoe.
“He was in a little creek ravine,” he said. “He looked at us. His eyes were blinking. You could tell he was aware of his surroundings.”
Robbie was flown by helicopter to the VCU Medical Center in Richmond, where his mother, 30-year-old Barbara Jean Locker of Ruther Glen formally identified him.
“He is here and safe. Thank you for your prayers, your thoughts. Thank you for searching,” Locker said in a statement. “He is a strong little fella. At this time, my family thanks you for respecting our privacy.”
A doctor at VCU said yesterday that Robbie is doing “remarkably well.”
“Thank goodness we have had warm weather the past few days,” he said. “He was absolutely cold when he arrived in the unit from the extreme conditions [Friday]. Some of the expected skin finding from being exposed to elements for a period of five days.”
He said they are going through and looking at all of the extensive injuries he may have.
The doctor could not go into specific details about his health, but said “it is very difficult to speculate how he is in such good condition at this time. Just looking at his smile when he sees his family is reassuring to us.”
Robbie is expected to be in the hospital for several days, the doctor predicted.
The Hanover County Sheriff’s Office received a call at 2:43 p.m. Sunday about a missing child.
Robert A. Wood Sr. said he was walking along a trail in the park with his two autistic sons and his girlfriend when Robbie, his older son, wandered off and ran into the woods around 2 p.m. He told police that he tried to chase after the boy, but eventually lost sight of him.
Robbie was last seen at the end of the trail close to the North Anna River.
“Robert is a very strong and determined little boy,” his father said in a statement. “We never gave up hope that he would return home safe. Thank you so much everybody. Robert is home.”
For the past six days, thousands of law enforcement agencies, fire, rescue and military personnel as well as 6,000 citizen volunteers participated in the search for Robbie. The terrain in the search areas is particularly rugged, with many ravines, brush and briars. The terrain in addition to Robbie’s challenges made the search particulary difficult.
“No one on the team ever gave up. There were some times that you just had to reach down and find that faith that you were going to find him,” Hines said. “There is a God he listens to prayer and prayers were answered.”
Billy Chrimes, deputy search and rescue coordinator with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, said everyone involved realized time was short.
“It was absolutely emotional. There were tears,” he said. “A huge weight was lifted.”
“Everybody knew the seriousness of today, because we had everything working against us: time and the weather. So today was the day.”
Hines said that while the search is over, “the investigation will continue” as they backtrack to see what happened over the past six days.
Statement released by Barbara Locker, Robert’s mother:
“He is here and safe. Thank you for your prayers, your thoughts. Thank you for searching.
“He is a strong little fella. At this time, my family thanks you for respecting our privacy.”
Statement released on behalf of Robert Wood Sr., Robert’s father
“On behalf of the family of Robbie Wood, I would like to extend our greatest gratitude to all who have had us in your thoughts and in our prayers, to all volunteers who have donated time, effort and other valuable resources and finally to our local, state and federal fire and rescue.
“These people are truly professionals and we have no doubt in our minds that the best of the best are out here looking for Robert.
“The support we received is overwhelming and we wish we named everyone on the list. It’s just too great, but please know we know who you are. I would like to thank the news media for its continued coverage, as well as its respect for our privacy.
“Robert is a very strong and determined little boy. We never gave up hope that he would return home safe. The family has been here every hour and been involved in the search 200 percent. Thank you very much everybody. Robert is home.”