The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Volunteers breathe a sigh of relief
BY ROBYN SIDERSKY
Navy Seabee Jeremy Hester has been searching for 8-year-old Robert Wood Jr. since he was reported missing Sunday.
“We were hopeful that today would be the day,” he said.
His hopes became reality.
The child was found alive and was being treated at at a hospital, Hanover County Sheriff David Hines announced during an afternoon news briefing.
About 3 p.m., Capt. Richard Farmer of the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office shared the news with the volunteers who were at Meadow Event Park.
Cheers, hugs and sighs of relief broke out among the crowd, which was gathered in front of a firetruck adorned with an American flag.
“Be proud inside your heart that you helped. Be cause you did. I don’t care what you did. You helped,” Farmer told the crowd.
About 1,200 volunteers were deployed in the woods near North Anna Battlefield Park searching for the child, and more than 6,000 were trained over the course of the six days.
Hester said there was an anxiousness among the volunteers today because of the impending cold weather.
“Everyone was getting more worried,” he said.
Temperatures dropped into the 40s and continued to plummet last night.
“It was just a relief over everybody,” Hester said.
Edward Robeson began volunteering on Wednesday and came back Thursday and Friday to continue search ing.
He was in the woods, near the river, when he heard the news.
A girl in his search group saw the news on her phone and the word spread.
“We were clapping, screaming for joy ecstatic. I can’t emphasize that enough,” Hester said.
He took time off from work to help with the search.
Robin Wahls said she drove the bus that transported Robert’s parents to the woods to search.
She had just dropped them off when someone on the bus heard the good news. She confirmed it with a law enforcement source and then turned around and went back to tell them.
“They were just so excited. It was just awesome to see it,” she said.
She’s driven busloads of volunteers to the search site from 6:30 a.m. until it got dark every day of the search.
During his briefing, Hines extensively thanked the volunteers and all the different agencies that assisted in the search.
“We’ve spoken with the experts that have been in volved in these searches, and they have never been in volved a search that had this many volunteers consistent ly, every day, and grow every day,” he said.
After the good news was announced, Gov. Bob Mc Donnell released a statement.
“A true sense of community and selflessness was displayed as thousands of volunteers showed up day after day to participate in the search. The great dedication, optimism and vigilance of the many people who donated their time and energy to the search and rescue effort reflects the goodness of our Commonwealth,” he said in the statement.
Two hours after the good news broke, nearly all the volunteers had left Meadow Event Park.
The professionals, who often experience sad endings to crisis events, were smiling.