CHATHAM, Va. (WDBJ7)-- UPDATE: After an 18 hour search, Andrew Yarboro, 9, is home safe with his family tonight.
According to Yarboro's mom, Jessica Fox, around 5:30 Tuesday night, Andrew was playing outside while his dad worked on their house. His dad turned his back for a moment and Andrew wandered off.
Andrew lives with autism and is considered "non-verbal." He has wandered away before, but after his dad checked the places his son usually gravitates toward, he called 911 for help.
With in an hour, a search and rescue mission was underway. Union Hall Elementary turned into a headquarters for first responders from across the region. Andrew's photo was hanging on the command center door.
Next to a picture of Andrew with a horse, first responders posted a tip-sheet on how to communicate with Andrew. Because he is non-verbal, he doesn't respond to common search phrases. Flashing lights and yelling could make him run away and hide.
Instead, the tip-sheet advised the hundreds of volunteers to recite nursery rhymes or sing the "ABCs". It was that very tactic that eventually led to Andrew being found.
Andrew is also known to strip down to his underwear, especially when he is wet. Investigators found his clothes and shoes in the thick woods behind his home.
When volunteers heard that news Wednesday morning, they made a perimeter around the woods.
"In case the young man walks out there, we'll be out here to hopefully spot him," said Jock Owings, a volunteer.
As Virginia State Police flew overhead at the end of hour 17, word reached Andrew's home on County Road that he was found.
"It's just overwhelming how the community came together for my child," said Fox.
Andrew was found just before 11:30 a.m. near a creek deep in the woods just minutes from his home, but first responders took about two hours to get him out of the woods, into warm clothes, reunited with his family and into an ambulance.
Andrew had scratches and a swollen foot. He was taken to the hospital to make sure he was okay.
Fox said the first thing her son asked for was pizza. She said he can have all of the pizza he wants.
"I'm just so glad to have him back I can't even explain it," said Fox. "This is a parent's worst nightmare that actually had a good ending and I'm so grateful and so thankful."
The Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office is seeking help finding a missing 9-year-old boy.
According to a release, the sheriff’s office received a call around 5:30 Tuesday afternoon reporting that Andrew Yarboro, 9, had wandered away from his home on the 1200 block of County Road in Chatham and could not be found.
Authorities from the Henry, Pittsylvania and Halifax County sheriff’s offices, as well as Danville City Police, Virginia State Police and Angel Search and Rescue teams are currently searching for the boy, the release stated. Fire and rescue officials from Bedford County also are involved.
Andrew Yarboro is described as a white male, approximately 4 feet tall, wearing a dark gray shirt and black windbreaker pants at the time of his disappearance.
Andrew is nonverbal, and a reverse 911 call has been made to residents in the area to report his disappearance, the release stated.
Anyone who sees him is asked to call 911 immediately.