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Police find missing 6-year-old boy safe in Prairie Grove after hundreds of volunteers help search

"Prairie Grove is one of those places that when a community member has a need, we see people step up," said Prairie Grove Police Capt. Jeff O'Brien.

PRAIRIE GROVE, Ark. — On Sept. 18, 2023, after an hours-long search, a missing 6-year-old boy was found safe in Prairie Grove.

The search came with an outpour of support from the whole community.

Around 8 p.m. Monday night, Prairie Grove Police received a call about a missing 6-year-old, and Prairie Grove Police Department (PGPD) Captain Jeff O’Brien said the boy’s parents had been looking for him since about 5:30 p.m.

A search and rescue effort quickly began, but it was getting dark.

“We began to put the word out through social media and various sources,” Capt. O’Brien said.

When the community got the message, hundreds of volunteers sprung into action.

“We had our superintendents, our pastors from churches, our mayor, and then the administration from law enforcement agencies all over the area without even us having to call them,” Capt. O’Brien said.

Volunteers like Prairie Grove Mayor David Faulk met in the Harp’s parking lot, where police had a command post.

“We did what thousands in this community did last night, which is feel compassion for that family. [We] just wanted to be part of trying to find the young man,” Mayor Faulk said.

As the volunteers split up to look, Mayor Faulk says it wasn’t long before they got good news.

“We got the report that the young man was found, and then we all celebrated,” Mayor Faulk said.

All along, the boy had been close to home.

“The child had been in the back seat of his mother's vehicle, who had been also driving around looking for the child,” Capt. O’Brien said. “… He’s a six-year-old boy. Obviously, he was probably a little ornery being that he was hiding that whole time in the back of his mother's vehicle."

He was safely reunited with his family.

Captain O’Brien and Mayor Faulk say a major takeaway from this story is the support from the close-knit community, which they say is no surprise.

“I made a post last night. It was nothing more than something I’ve heard from the Bible, 'if one of us is in pain, we're all in pain, and when one of us does find joy, we all going to share in that expression of joy,'” Mayor Faulk said. “I think last night was a great example of that.”

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