Missing 6-year-old found safe after community search

A 6 year old boy with autism is now safe with his family after a seven hour search in Elgin. 

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – A 6 year old boy with autism is now safe with his family after a seven hour search in Elgin. 

On Sunday, Jonathan Mallard went missing from his home around 3 o’clock and for hours his family, the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office along with k9’s and a helicopter searched for him in the wooded areas around Barfield road.

“He’s a special needs child and his family told us that he’s probably not going to come to you if you’re yelling so we had instructed all of our people out helping us search to kind of stay in a stealth mode, be real quiet as you’re going through the woods,” say Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan.   

As evening approached the sheriff’s office posted on Facebook asking the community to help. Hundreds of people showed up to search and two men were able to locate Mallard just before 10 p.m.

Jimmy Peake Jr. using his experience with hunting to search and says years ago he use to hunt in this area. He and his son-in-law Robert Sloan Jr. used a thermovision tool to find Mallard.

“I was visually using the thermo and I seen him step out from behind a tree and then he stepped back like he was wanting to play hide and seek. I asked him do you see a light I see somebody,“ says Peake Jr. 

Both men say they have children of their own and just wanted to help bring the boy back home safely to his family. 

“I walked up to him, he gave me a high five and then he let me pick him up. He actually reached up to me. He wasn’t afraid and the whole way back out the woods he was high fiving me and play with my little hat,” says Sloan Jr.

“If it hadn’t been for the community coming out which it was a community citizen that found him, I don’t know how long we would have been out there. If we would have been too prideful to ask for citizens to come out and help we may would have still been out there right now looking for him,” says Sheriff Boan.

The sheriff also says he is taking this time to remind the community of Project Lifesaver for children with autism which provides a wristband radio transmitter that has automatic tracking signal if the child wonders away. The program is free through the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office. 

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