What police called a potential tragedy was brought to an “excellent conclusion” Thursday night when officers found a 6-year-old boy who had been abandoned in the Osage County woods.
Tulsa police announced the recovery Friday on their Facebook page.
“Last night we were called to 5100 N. Lewis for a report of a child who was missing,” the post reads. “With the combined efforts of Patrol Officers, Helicopter Unit, Dispatchers, and Osage County, we were able to locate the child and return him safely to his family.”
Family told police the boy, whom they reported missing, was with another relative when his father picked him up about 4 p.m. Thursday.
The boy was using his father’s cellphone to call family members, and he spoke with an officer, saying his father had left him alone in a car in the woods and that he didn’t know where he was, the post states.
After about two hours of talking with the boy, the officer and dispatchers pinged the phone near the woods west of Turley.
Officers saturated the area, and the boy honked the car’s horn and turned on its lights, which were visible from a police helicopter.
The officers in the helicopter directed those on the ground to the boy — he was “deep in the woods” near 3503 W. 69th St. North — and Osage County deputies found him “hungry but unharmed.”
Officers learned that the deputies had earlier arrested the boy’s father, Dominique Saunders, when they confronted him about accusations that he’d gotten into a person’s occupied vehicle and stolen mail from another person. He was on foot at the time and was uncooperative, refusing to tell deputies how he got there, police said.
“He made no mention of abandoning his child in the woods,” the post states.
“Due to the extremely wooded and rural location the vehicle was in, the chances that anyone would have happened upon the vehicle in a timely manner are very slim. If not for the 6-year-old’s ability to call his family, and the excellent efforts from patrol, air support, and dispatch, he very well may have perished in the woods.
“We are extremely proud of all of the people involved with this case bringing this potential tragedy to an excellent conclusion.”
The boy was sent home with another family member, and deputies added a complaint of child endangerment to Saunders’ complaints.