Massachusetts teens praised for helping autistic boy lost in woods

The police chief said they may have prevented a tragedy

(CNN) – High praise for some teenage boys in Massachusetts. While playing in the woods, they came across a little lost boy with autism. The police chief said they may have prevented a tragedy.

Halfway through spring vacation, a group of friends were hanging out in some woods in Hudson. While playing hide and go seek, the teens spotted another boy, much younger and obviously in trouble. Evan Gomez, one of the boys, said, “This little five-year-old, like wandering around looking really confused.”

And he appeared to have fallen in some water. Dyllan Hatfield, another one of the boys, said, “He was soaked on his right side completely and he was just absolutely terrified.”

At the same time, a 911 call came into the police dispatch center from the little boy’s mother, who’d been walking in the woods with him when he wandered off.

The police chief said she was frantic not only because he’d been missing for nearly an hour, but also because of his medical condition. Chief Michael Burks said, “As I would describe it from hearing the other officers, they relayed that he was autistic.”

The woods aren’t far from the center of town, but they’re full of rocks, streams and snakes, not a safe place for any boy that age on his own. As officers, dogs and a helicopter were rushing towards the woods out marched the little boy, surrounded by his rescuers. Burks said, “And then to see him coming out with them, that was a pleasant surprise.”

The police posted a picture of the young heroes on Facebook. The little boy’s mom replied, “Thank you guys so much, I can’t express the relief I felt hearing someone helped him out.”

Hatfield said, “I never thought that I’d be the guy that helped somebody out that needed it. And my confidence has gone through the roof.”

Not a bad lesson to take away from a “boring” spring break.