DA Early Honors Webster Dispatchers, Officers for Rescuing Missing Boy with Autism

April 10, 2024

For Immediate Release

Contact: Lindsay Corcoran (508) 368-7252 or (774) 670-8811 

WEBSTER – A group of dispatchers and police officers were recognized by Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. today for averting what could have been a tragedy when they quickly worked to locate a 4-year-old boy with autism, finding him partially in the water on a riverbank near his Webster home.

South Worcester County Communication Center Dispatchers Jessica Mahota, Victoria Longo and Bonnie Pearl, and Webster Police Officers Jonathan Brooks, Robert Rockwood, and Patrick Trainor were presented with the District Attorney’s Team Excellence and Merit – TEAM Award – for their efforts on the afternoon of Jan. 13, 2024.

“These well-trained dispatchers and police officers all understood the specific dangers of this boy’s condition, which attracted him to water, and they were able to avoid the ultimate tragedy on this day,” Mr. Early said. “There was no time to lose as minutes and seconds could have made the difference between this boy being involved in a heartbreaking tragedy or bring returned to his parents unharmed, as we thankfully saw here.”

At around 12:44 p.m., South Worcester County Communication Center Dispatcher Mahota received a call from a babysitter that the boy, wearing only a diaper, had left the residence through an open window and had already been missing for several minutes. The babysitter alerted the dispatchers that the boy had autism. Separately, Dispatcher Longo received a call from the boy’s father who told her he had an affinity for water. The dispatchers worked quickly to relay this information to the officers so they could search for the boy.

Officers Brooks, Rockwood, and Trainor, all of whom who had previously received training on supporting people with autism, rushed to the French River, nearby the family home.

Officer Trainor located the boy on the bank of the river with his feet in the water and immediately picked him up.

An ambulance was called to evaluate the boy and he was taken to a local hospital as a precaution even though he was uninjured.

“The level professionalism and teamwork that both the dispatchers and officers showed that day is a shining example of the level of public safety we have in Webster,” said Webster Police Chief Michael Shaw. “Their level-headed thinking and quick actions under stress are atypical of the types of situations our public safety professionals face every day, not just in Webster but across the country. I am thankful that this situation resolved itself the way it did, and that the child was found quickly. I would also like to thank the office of the District Attorney for recognizing their efforts.”

The TEAM Award was created by Mr. Early in 2019 to recognize public safety employees who go above and beyond the call of duty. Contact the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office at (508) 755-8601 to nominate someone for this award.

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