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Child with Autism Found Safe After Wandering Into Woods

For Immediate Release : Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
Release Number: 24-48

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Child with Autism Found Safe After Wandering Into Woods

Body-worn camera footage from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office shows the heroic moments deputies rescued a five-year-old girl with autism from a wooded, swampy area Monday evening.

On February 26, 2024, at 5:10 p.m., HCSO's Aviation Unit was called to the 5000 block of Windbrush Drive in Tampa to assist deputies in finding a five-year-old girl who had left her home on foot.

Using a thermal imaging camera, aviation found the girl walking through a heavily wooded area with wetlands. In the footage, you can see the child approaching a body of water. Recognizing the pending danger, the aviation unit worked quickly, guiding deputies on the ground to her location, where she was found safe and without injury.

"Their quick action saved the day, turning a potential tragedy into a hopeful reunion,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “Their dedication shows what service and protection are all about here at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office."

*The child’s family has given HCSO permission to show her face in the video provided*