Sheriff sets record straight regarding search for child

Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:52 pm

A 13-year-old female was sought Monday night, Jan. 23, because she had left the residence where she was staying, and was seen walking on SD Highway 45 south of Miller in frigid weather.

Hand County Sheriff, Doug DeBoer, says many rumors have circulated regarding the incident, and he wants to explain what happened, and how mutual aid was implemented to have better success in locating the child. His statement follows:

The sheriff’s office received a call about 10 p.m. on January 23 about a 13-year-old female walking on SD Highway 45 south of Miller. The girl, from another community, was staying with a family from the neighborhood when she took off without consent or knowledge of the hosts.

The family attempted to locate and bring the child back to their home, but needed assistance. A search ensued and eventually the child was located and brought to safety after about a two-mile hike. She was returned to her family unharmed.

The search included two members of the Miller Police Department and two members from the sheriff’s office, as well as several neighbors and friends. Ultimately, it was one of the host family members who saw her and stayed close in pursuit of her and led to her recovery.

In this day and age, we should not be surprised to see public safety agencies helping one another, whether close to home or in a neighboring or adjoining jurisdiction. We all need help from our neighbors once in a while and to ask, “What were they doing here?” is no longer appropriate and maybe never was.

The Miller Police Department has a “FLIR” device which can turn night time into day time, and because it was purchased through Homeland Security is a statewide asset to be used when available, statewide if need be. This tool has many uses, and on this six-degree night it was to save a life. We are grateful to have such an instrument in our box of tools.

Much speculation about the situation was born of scanner traffic, which was embellished by those who heard only parts of the report and parts of our response. The child committed no crimes, no homes were burglarized, no vehicles were stolen and no arrests were made, nor will there be any arrests.

No helicopter was used in the search. The helicopter came into the discussion when my four-wheel drive vehicle became stuck in a snowdrift and access to the vehicle was best achieved when I suggested, by use of a (fictional) helicopter.

Many people, as in events past, have offered support, equipment and their time should we ever need to conduct such searches, and we in public safety are eternally grateful for those in the community who render us aid in our time of need. We greatly appreciate the help.