Local News

Boy Found Safe, 'Curled up' Near Road

Posted March 26, 2008 6:46 a.m. EDT
Updated March 26, 2008 7:05 a.m. EDT

— 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.