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Missing W.Va. boy, 13, found at friend's house

May 17, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

Worry turned to tears of joy at 3:50 p.m. Friday when a 13-year-old boy who left home a day earlier stumbled into a friend's house, wet and dirty.

When the phone call came reporting the boy was safe, volunteer search parties were combing through nearby woods. Some were using dogs that had already traversed several miles. Members of the Air National Guard were about to come out equipped with four-wheelers.

Ten or so emergency vehicles, including police cars and an ambulance, were parked in the front yard of the boy's home off Jones Spring West Road near the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area.

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Soggy searchers were eating hamburgers donated by Burger King. The boy's family sat on their home's front porch, quiet.

News that the boy had been found quickly filtered through the crowd and over police radio frequencies.

The boy left his family's home around 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

His parents expected him to return home that night, and when he had not come back by the next morning they alerted police, said John Droppleman, a West Virginia State Police trooper.

After the boy spoke to his family Friday, family members handed a cordless phone to Droppleman. He told the boy that some 50 volunteers were out searching for him and then scheduled to meet with the boy and his family.

The boy was upset and crying, Droppleman said later.

Droppleman thanked and commended the volunteers, including reserve deputies and members of the Hedgesville Volunteer Fire Department and Back Creek Valley Fire Department.

"It's my job to go out there and search for people. I get paid for it. These people don't get paid," Droppleman said.

"It was a happy ending. As long as we find them OK and in good health, that's a win."

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