Missing boy found safe in his Hagerstown neighborhood

July 12, 2011|By DAN DEARTH |
  • Nine-year-old Nylik Savis Cummins, left, was reported missing Monday night from his home on West Church Street in Hagerstown. He was found safe Tuesday morning in his own neighborhood.
Submitted photo

HAGERSTOWN — The Hagerstown Police Department searched Monday night and Tuesday morning for a 9-year-old boy authorities later discovered had been at a friend's house playing video games.

Nylik Savlis Cummins of West Church Street in Hagerstown was returned safely to his mother Tuesday morning.

"I was at my friend's house playing video games," Nylik said Tuesday at his house. "It was too dark to go home" Monday night.

Nylik's mother, Shanikka Freeman, said the youngster didn't return home after he went outside to play at about noon on Monday.

"At about 8 (p.m.) we had the whole neighborhood looking for him," said Freeman, who called police at 10 p.m. when Nylik still hadn't turned up. "I sat up on my porch all night."

Freeman said she found out where Nylik was shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday, when she was contacted by the grandmother of the friend with whom Nylik was playing. Freeman said police officers picked up the boy and brought him home.

"Nylik isn't going to leave my sight for a long time," she said.

As part of the rescue effort, police showed Nylik's picture around his neighborhood and called households on and around Jonathan Street with an automated telephone message that said the child was missing.

East Franklin Street resident Tawana Allen said she didn't receive a telephone call, but police showed her Nylik's picture when she was outside at about 8:55 a.m. Tuesday.

Allen said she recognized Nylik's picture because he plays baseball with her children.

"He's my buddy," Allen said after hearing Nylik had been found. "My kids play with him. I'm glad they found him. I'm glad he's safe."

Margaret Coeburn, who lives several houses down from Nylik on West Church Street, said she received the automated telephone call Tuesday morning.

"I came out and looked around and didn't see any kids," she said. "I'm glad they found him."

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said the search began Monday night when authorities were told that the child was missing.

In addition to the police department, several other agencies were involved in the search, including theWashington County Sheriff's Office and Hagerstown Fire Department.

"Fortunately, it had a good ending," said Smith, who had gone to an area near Antietam Creek were searchers were looking for the youngster.

Earlier Tuesday, the sheriff's office used a bloodhound to track Nylik's movements to Antietam Creek near the former Municipal Electric Light Plant.

"The child was known to play here," Smith said at the scene as rescue workers wearing life jackets waded into the creek.

Smith said authorities were concerned because water flows rapidly near a dam in that area.

"For a 9-year-old to go swimming down there, it definitely worries us," Smith said.

In June 2009, firefighters rescued a 15-year-old girl from turbulent waters at the base of the dam, and the bodies of two men were found in the water near the same spot in April 1998 and in May 2001, respectively.

Smith said searches for missing children typically start in the house to rule out the possibility that a missing child is hiding.

"We also get a list of his playmates, and where he goes," Smith said.

He said the parents of Nylik's friend didn't notify Freeman of her son's whereabouts because she doesn't have a phone.

The search for Nylik marked the first time in many months that the police department handled a serious incident involving a missing child, Smith said. But they have been involved recently in the searches for several Alzheimer's patients who wandered off.

Smith said the police department begins investigating a report of a missing child immediately after receiving the call.

"What can you take more seriously than a missing child?" he said. "How can you not take something like that serious?"

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