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UPDATE: Missing Autistic Wildomar Teen Found Safe

David Soto, 17, was found safe around 2 p.m. by a resident on Cameo Lane in Wildomar.

LAST UPDATED Oct. 11 at 4:16 p.m.: The missing 17-year-old Wildomar autistic teen has been found safe.

Around 2 p.m. authorities confirmed that David Soto was found safe by a resident on Cameo Lane. The boy appeared in the resident's yard cold, wet and hungry, but otherwise unharmed, police confirmed. He was transported to Inland Valley Medical Center where he was being treated for hypothermia, his mother Anna Espinoza said.

"He's on I.V. fluid, but the doctor said he is going to be ok," Espinoza said from the hospital. "I'm just so grateful to everyone who helped find him. I can't thank them enough."

David went missing Wednesday, sheriff's officials said, and an all-out search ensued.

More than 100 residents and CERT volunteers joined the search Thursday. Wildomar Community Services Director Paula Willette coordinated efforts with emergency response managers from the county, as well as the cities of Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore and Menifee. Local agencies such as Southern California Edison, Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District, and local businesses joined the effort.

"It was mutual aid at its best. We could not have done it without everyone," Willette said, noting that online communities were instrumental in helping spread the word.

A flier was also distributed throughout the community and a secondary grid search with the volunteers was conducted.

Espinoza said police told her that the woman who found David recognized him from news reports.

"David was cold and thirsty, and I was told the lady gave him water and called police," she said.

It's unclear where the teen wandered to through the night. He disappeared from his home in the 34300 block of Chloe Court in Wildomar at about 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to Riverside County sheriff's Cpl. Angel Ramos.

David left a note for his mother stating he was going on a treasure hunt, sheriff's officials said.

Espinoza told Patch that David was last seen wearing beige khaki pants and black L.A. Lakers tennis shoes. He also left home with a brown pirate hat that featured a red hatband and dreadlocks attached to it, Espinoza said. The hat is part of a "Jack Sparrow" Halloween costume modeled off Johnny Depp's character in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" film.

An eye patch and jacket that may have belonged to the missing teen were found by volunteers at the Wildomar/Murrieta boundary shortly before 1:30 p.m. at Englemann Oak Street and Elizabeth Lane in Murrieta, located in the proximity of The Colony and Inland Valley Medical Center, but the link had not been confirmed at press time.

More than 75 residents and city leaders, fire and police officials, and volunteers from CERT gathered at Wildomar City Hall Thursday morning to join the search effort. Instruction was provided and the group split up to canvas neighborhoods. The Wildomar Windsong community was the first area being targeted and search volunteers moved in a south westerly direction toward Palomar Street in Wildomar and Washington Avenue in Murrieta and into the plateau communities.

Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department and the Murrieta Fire Department were mapping the search effort and assigning streets to volunteers who continued to trickle into City Hall after Thursday's initial briefing.

According to Cpl. Flannery of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, a bloodhound tracked David's scent to Plowboys on Palomar Street in Wildomar late Wednesday.

David had left home before and was found at Bear Creek Golf Course in Murrieta. According to officials at the briefing, autistic kids can be drawn to bodies of water.

David attends school at Elsinore High School and officials in the district were notified, according to Cpl. Flannery.

Espinoza said her son is very friendly and is known for telling stories. He calls himself by different names, so she urged that searchers rely on his physical description.

"He is really easy to spot. He's super skinny, 6 feet tall, brown hair, brown eyes, about 125 pounds," she said.

"Thank you so much," she said through tears to the volunteers during Thursday's briefing.

After the boy was found, Lake Elsinore Sheriff's Station Captain Shelley Kennedy-Smith thanked the community for its participation in the search effort.

"This would not have been possible without them," she said.

David was reported missing about 6:20 p.m. Wednesday, police confirmed.

"We have our helicopter up, units on the ground, a tracking dog and are checking with local hospitals," Cpl. Ramos told Patch Wednesday evening.

Anyone who knows of his whereabouts was asked to call 911.

Police and David's family describe him as "highly functional" and a very "independent kid."

Thursday morning Wildomar City Councilwoman Bridgette Moore posted a message to the community on her Facebook page advising that volunteers could sign up to join the search for the missing teen. Moore joined the search efforts and after David was found said, "This was a great community effort. It was awesome."


J Carabine October 11, 2012 at 09:57 PM
SO glad !!! :):)
Denise Woolsey October 11, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Thank you Patch for the update and so happy he is safe!!!
Nancy October 11, 2012 at 10:19 PM
@J Carabine thank you for initially posting the volunteer info and phone number. I called immediately to volunteer. I am so glad he is safe.
Brandi Hall October 11, 2012 at 10:22 PM
So glad to hear
JMO October 11, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Thank God he was found. Im assuming the parents work? And I am in no way blaming them for working the kid needs a roof over his head and food and clothing. But because they work do they not qualify for assistants to watch him? Things are not black and white anymore and because you may have a 2 parent working home does in no way mean they can afford child care. We have a new class beside Child poor and that is working poor. Our government don't see it that way. So what I am asking is how can this be prevented next time. And what about others that may be in the same situation? Anyone know of any resource`s for them? The patch should add a resource section that would help a lot of family's. And why the heck was this story just a line typed running under news in 1 sentence if this were L.A. They would have reported it. They the TV media let him down. Toni you did good TY
Jenny Nason October 11, 2012 at 10:30 PM
It was an honor to participate especially with such a HAPPY ENDING!!!
Mom October 11, 2012 at 10:35 PM
So glad they found him and he is safe. I wish Riverside County would adopt adding Project Lifesaver. Project LIfesaver has 100% success rating in locating people with autism, demetia or alzheimers but I can't get anyone to help me start this service in our area. I have a child with Autism and am afraid every day he will go missing also.
Mom October 11, 2012 at 10:36 PM
So glad they found him and he is safe. I wish Riverside County would adopt adding Project Lifesaver. Project LIfesaver has 100% success rating in locating people with autism, demetia or alzheimers but I can't get anyone to help me start this service in our area. I have a child with Autism and am afraid every day he will go missing also.
cynthia sanchez October 11, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Praise GOD!
Mozzie October 11, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Thanks for the update. We searched some pretty rugged areas. Hope he learned from it and the lesson sticks. We all have things we learned the hard way.
Diana October 11, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Kudos to all the people that came out and volunteered to find this young man, it is heart warming to see how people can join together in crisis as a community, you all deserve a huge pat on the back.
Natalie D October 11, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Thank god he is ok! He ended up pretty far from home. Well short drive, long walk kinda far. I'm sure he is happy to be warm and dry with mom and dad!
KevWild October 12, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Dream work through team work. Good job everyone. Glad he's warm and safe.
J Carabine October 12, 2012 at 12:43 AM
You are most welcome, glad you could help.
Brenda October 12, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Ditto, and congratulations on a community effort including the folks on foot from the SCE and SoGas.
Nancy October 12, 2012 at 04:59 AM
@mom What is Project Lifesaver? Could you tell me how it works?
Brenda October 12, 2012 at 07:07 AM
Exactly Diana! I have missed a few articles the last few days, and ran by this one today and then saw he had been found, and all the residents coming out to help. Its a awesome show of strength, dropping everything, taking the time needed, and he was found. I was so scared for him until I got to the update, and I bet he is thrilled to be home, warm, fed, with his family after his pirate adventure :) God Bless him and everyone who turned out to help, that is what makes up a community.
John Larsen October 12, 2012 at 07:17 AM
It was very gratifying to see so many from all of the regional Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) assembled at the Wildomar City Hall this morning and take action in canvassing neighborhoods and doing whatever we could supporting our professional responders in the search for David, who I know we all are thankful he was located safe. I know that there were a lot more of our compassionate and diligent volunteers that would have been out there today as well but as volunteers we do what we can. What we contributed today shows how powerful a community can be. Could not be prouder. Cheers to all!
J Carabine October 12, 2012 at 01:49 PM
http://www.projectlifesaver.org/
Denise Woolsey October 12, 2012 at 03:03 PM
http://m.countynewscenter.com/news/take-me-home-program-life-saver Here is what San Diego County Sherrif's Department have in place...Wouldn't that be nice to have had here ? I have my 26 year old son "Red Flagged" with our 911 system already. I took vital info and his picture to our local Sherrif's department 5 years ago and asked that they put him in their data base. I feel much safer knowing they know of my sons Autism and who he is. There is a pre-printed form you can download from www.autismriskmanagement.org to do the same. Hopefully our county will get a database like this for those with mental or developmental disabilities...I think every county should have this system. Those running for political offices right now should look into this. They certainly would get my vote!!
Denise Woolsey October 12, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Thank you Janice for posting your info on Project Safe"
Paula Willette October 12, 2012 at 04:50 PM
If you would like information on the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) contact your local City for details. The City of Wildomar is hosting two FREE training classes in January. First Aid Class and CPR classes are offered October 24 & 25 for a minimal cost. Help your family and neighbors in any emergency by being prepared.
KevWild October 14, 2012 at 06:18 AM
J Carabine, I like a person that is part of the solution. Good job to you and everyone involved. Kevinrc@planetmail.com
KevWild October 14, 2012 at 06:31 AM
The way people got involved and worked together in finding him is amazing and wonderful. I wish I had participated, but I didn't follow the article fast enough. It would've been nice to be among all you kind people.
Teller of Truth October 14, 2012 at 06:41 AM
We all agreed about that a long time ago keviemarf.
Teller of Truth October 14, 2012 at 06:53 AM
Keviemarf this child was found a while ago. I guess if you ever bothered to read the comments of OTHERS, you would have probably figured that one out dillweed! But no, you could actually care less about the posters on here or the people in this community. You are just a little troll getting your jollies. What a pathetic life you must lead. You better just hope that raising Constant Comments blood pressure the way you gleefully said you did, did not compromise his health in any way. You had better look up the meaning of cyber bullying. And hell ya, WE WILL ALL TESTIFY TO YOUR THEFT, IMPERSONATION, LIBEL, & attempts to do personal & emotional harm. Its all building up! You really blew it this time. ALL your comments are still up & have already been copied & emailed. So don't keep anything to yourself. Go ahead and add some more........
Teller of Truth October 14, 2012 at 06:58 AM
Yeah thats right Keviemarf, you were so busy writing about yourself that you didn't actually follow the article. Isn't the TRUTH that you just write a bunch of crap and could actually care less about anyone in our community? You will NEVER be amongst KIND people, because we can't stand you or your kind of troll !
Teller of Truth October 14, 2012 at 07:06 AM
TROLL ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!TO J CARABINE, this person is troll. I wouldn't click on IT , if you know what I mean! Just a friendly heads up............TROLL ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Brenda October 14, 2012 at 10:27 AM
Hey CC, Just read this and I am so sorry to hear you are ill. Hoping you make a speedy recovery and are soon on your way home.
Brenda October 14, 2012 at 10:34 AM
Teller, Teller, these comment areas are not for this stuff hun. I realize there are a few of you angry about something, but NOT here. Its not a place for personal issues. Especially in an article like this. You responding in such a way to someone you dont like makes you look just as bad. Just let it go. Let THEM look bad, and get their comment deleted. Also, hate to break the news but it takes more then anything I have seen here for the FBI to even bother taking a report. They will inform you to ignore the person, get a restraining order if they are coming to your home and thats it. As far as Civil suits its the same thing. You will not find an attorney to take it on, and if you do he will want a retainer upfront. Otherwise its a no win case and usually gets thrown out. So everyone just needs to hang it up, be nice, and be an adult and stick to the article as there is nothing supportive for our city and residents with this intermingled with a missing young man.

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