A 9-year-old boy is alive thanks to the heroic efforts of several police officers.
When officers from the East Greenwich Police Department arrived at a home on Billows Drive in East Greenwich, NJ Saturday afternoon at 3:45 pm, they were told that Kaden Carlyle, a 9-year-old boy with autism, had wandered from home and hadn't been seen for at least 15 minutes.
Authorities immediately launched a search that included personnel from neighboring police, fire department and emergency crews. After about an hour and a half of searching, Kaden's father spotted his shoes near Mantua Creek, which borders his home.
"From there it was just a matter of going off the footprints into the water," said Patrolman Bryan Haas of the Logan Township Police Department.
Police then heard the boy scream as his father called towards him.
"He was screaming but we couldn't see him," said Patrolman Phil Owens of the East Greenwich Police Department. "We could hear him and we knew he was in the creek but we couldn't see him."
Police and K9 units finally spotted Kaden inside the creek. The boy had wandered into the creek which at the time was at low tide. According to police officials, he had managed to make it about a mile from the shoreline before becoming stuck in the mud. When police saw him, he was submerged up to his neck. With temperatures dropping and the tide coming back in, the officers knew they only had minutes to act before the child drowned.
"He wasn't very verbal," said Patrolman Adam Ziegler of the Deptford Police Department. "We could only see the top of his head."
Ziegler, Owens and Haas quickly took action and ran into the creek. At one point the officers became submerged in the mud and water but managed to free themselves.
"it was very hard to get through," said Ziegler. "We kept sinking. Every five to eight feet we would get stuck waist high in mud."
"I've seen deer back there get stuck in that marsh so I can't even imagine," said Ruth Gibbone, a friend and neighbor of the Carlyle family.
After fighting through the creek, they managed to make their way to the child. The boy was eventually freed and officers carried him to land. Kaden was freezing, naked and crying, but still alive.
"He was making some noises and wasn't able to talk at all," said Ziegler. "He was shaking a lot."
The boy was taken to Underwood Memorial Hospital for an evaluation but is expected to be okay.
“The officers did an excellent job and are credited with saving the child’s life,” said Lieutenant Charles Barone of the East Greenwich Township Police Department. “The only casualties were several destroyed police uniforms.”
"Thank God," said Gibbone. "We're really glad they found him."