Searching for A.J.

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This is where the search started, on East Gospel Grove.

Just after 1:30 p.m. the Vigo County Sheriffs Department was notified of a missing Autistic 13 year old boy Austin Jacob, A.J. Lawhorn. 

After overhearing the call on the scanner the Vigo County Emergency Management Agency stepped up to help in the search. 

The search included, Drones and K-9- Units at Hulman Links. 

The team was able to track A.J.’s  movements across U.S. 40 and into Hawthorn Park.

Drones were deployed at Rose-Hulman, while the dogs explored the park. 

“We can fly these things, all three of them we can fly them indefinitely because we are charging batteries as we go, we have multiple batteries for them,” J.D. Kesler said. “So if it takes us two days we can technically continue to fly and run steady operations for both days.” 

Folks soon flocked to the surrounding area to help assist. 

Mother Andrea Vester saw A.J.’s picture on the evening news and felt compelled to help. 

And she spotted the boy on North Chamberlain Street just south of Orchard.    

“I said his name he turned around and looked at me and then he kept walking and I tried to get him to stop but I didn’t know how,” Andrea Vester said. “And then I don’t know he kept walking so I called the police as soon as I saw him and they are here now, hopefully they find him.” 

A.J. then took off into the cornfield where authorities soon set up shop and flew drones over the area, using thermal imaging in hopes of tracking him down.

Then, after learning the teen was afraid of police and marked vehicles authorities stepped back.

Eventually A.J. came to them, ending the more than 7 hour search,

He was then evaluated by medical professionals at the New Life Church on Wabash and Chamberlain.

It was a peaceful ending to a terrifying situation.

“It’s a great feeling,” Sheriff Greg Ewring said. “I’d rather have found him like this with some sour feet, tired and maybe a little bit of a thirst but to be able to return him home safe and sound is ultimately the best thing.” 

Authorities are unsure of the exact route that A.J. took. 

But officials say they will be investigating into what led him to running off in the first place.

This is not the first time A.J. has gone missing. 

Vigo County just implemented a tracking system device which can be used for people with Alzheimer’s and Autism. 

They can use instruments to help track folks in real time, taking search times from hours down to minutes.

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