Local News

Boy Found Safe, 'Curled up' Near Road

Posted March 26, 2008

— A 2-year-old boy who “opened the door and took off” was found safe Tuesday night, his father said.

A neighbor found Zander McGee about three hours after he was reported missing from his home in southern Orange County, ending an air and ground search happily.

“He was curled up on the side of the road, off a little residential road about 300 yards behind our house,” said Rick McGee, Zander’s father.

Zander is autistic and went missing at about 7 p.m. Tuesday from Oak Crest Drive, southwest of Chapel Hill near the Chatham County line.

Deputies blocked the road and asked each driver who passed if they had seen the boy. His parents said he disappeared as they were getting dinner ready for Zander and his twin brother.

“What kept going through my mind over and over was replaying where he might have gone,” Rick McGee said.

It was dark and cold outside, especially for a 2-year-old.

Orange and Chatham County deputies and firefighters and the State Highway Patrol searched for the boy. A K-9 unit, a helicopter equipped with heat-detecting equipment, John Deere “Gator” off-road vehicles and night-vision equipment were also called in to help.

Investigators got a break when a nearby homeowner heard about the missing boy. She went outside to search and heard something rustling in the leaves.

Zander was cold, but unharmed.

McGee's parents said they each thought the other had Zander until they found out neither did.

Area residents have called authorities several times about missing children since a 6-year-old boy in Durham slipped away from his father at a relative's house on March 16 and drowned in a half-filled swimming pool. Usually, the children have been found within minutes.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • purplepat777 Mar 27, 2008

    A deadbolt that requires the use of a key is the solution.

  • VT1994Hokie Mar 26, 2008

    As I read each comment, it made me realize that the parents with autistic children have a much harder life than most other parents by far. It takes a special bond to nurture childen in general, but, my hat goes off to all parents that have a child that needs special attention.

    Through my educational years, I totally respect and admire parents that went the extra mile to assist, and make sure their child was being taken care of by those in place of the parent.

    For all of those that may say something negative about the parents; just look in the mirror. Thank your lucky stars that God blessed you with a normal child! Having a child with a problem could happen to any one of us. Give the parents in this ariticle your love and support as I mentioned earlier.

  • VT1994Hokie Mar 26, 2008

    This one is a feel good story. The little guy is safe, sound, and alive. Thank God for this. The parent should not be charged for anything. This could happen to any family any place in the World. Please don't judge the parent (s).

    I will bet this that situation has happened to just about all of us that have raised young children. Children this age don't know any better. This is why we call them kids. The parents are feeling so badly and they need our support. Don't judge; but embrace the parents.

  • haggis basher Mar 26, 2008

    "You expect God to answer you by posting his response on WRAL?"

    Well he is supposed to be omnipresent so he's here too :) (might be why he makes such a bad job after looking after kids and old folks) He is also supposed to be Omniscience (all knowing) so he already knew the child was going to walk away but chose not to do anything at the time. Strange that folks should thank someone who watches kids get into danger and does nothing about it often until its too late...go figure.

  • Godschild43 Mar 26, 2008

    Thank God he is safe God was with hime.My prayers are with hime and his parents.Please dont judge,this could happen to you,who knows.Only God above.

  • bobbyj Mar 26, 2008

    LAdybug needs a life lesson.... The home is not jail. MAybe duct tape to the wall for all little kids does that work?

  • WilloWSnapper Mar 26, 2008

    ladybug, come to my house for 2 hrs and deal with my autistic son, I bet you leave before that 2hrs is up !

    People with neurotypical children, you are so jaded that your sense is ugly and wrong. Im so sorry my son has to grow up around people like YOU

  • enoughsenough Mar 26, 2008

    Someone is going to jail!

  • CarolinaGirl25 Mar 26, 2008

    I cant imagine what it would feel like to not know where your child is. I have to know where my son is every min. I'm glad Zander was found safe though. Sad story about the 6 yr old. I know its a pain beyond words when you lose a child.

  • TexasKate Mar 26, 2008

    Ladybug et al: unless you have/or are rearing 2-yr old male twins, autistic or not, please refrain from judgmental commenting.

    This lil' cutie went on an adventure fueled by testosterone.
    Glory to God for the child's safe return and the attending angels.