Zev Family Newsletter: August 2001 - Addendum

More August 2001...

When telling the story of Jackieís birthday, we forgot to mention the birthday "present" that Benjamin gave Jackie. This summer, the boys had been spending Mondays with Jackieís mom, so when Jackieís birthday fell on a Monday, she suggested that Jackie and Marc to come over after work for a birthday dinner. Shortly after Jackie arrived, the boys came over from Jackieís brotherís house next door with their cousins. The kids were running around, and after a few minutes, Marc said, "Whereís Benjamin?" We looked in the office Ė no Benjamin. We looked in the bathrooms Ė no Benjamin. Then we started searching in earnest. We searched Jackieís momís house. We searched Donís house. We checked his pool. When, after searching both houses, we still hadnít found Benjamin, Jackie said, "Call the police; Iím going to take the car and search the neighborhood." We had been searching for about 15 minutes at this point. She jumped in the Honda, and spotted two women who had been sitting on the corner across the street from the house when she pulled up and parked. So she asked them if she had seen a small boy leave the house. They said yes, that he had gone up the street. She drove up the street, but didnít see him anywhere. And people she asked hadnít seen him either. She circled the block, and came back to the house to see if he had been found. Now we had been searching for about 30 minutes. As she pulled up, Marc came out of the house and walked towards the Van, which was parked on the street, just west of the house. Jackie immediately realized that this was where he was. The women saw him head "up the street," but never noticed that he never got past the van. Sure enough, a few seconds later, Marc pulled him out of the van, sweaty, but fine.

Benjamin said that he just wanted to sit in the car, so he had climbed into the van, climbed into his carseat, and put on his seatbelt. The van was parked on a slight incline, so once he was in the car, the door closed by itself. Once Benjamin puts on his seatbelt, he canít get out by himself, although when Marc pulled him out, he didnít seem like he wanted to get out. Jackie and Marc spent the next few days obsessing over how close a call this had been. The day had been a scorcher, over a hundred, and even at 6:00 at night, it was still very hot, especially in the car. He had been in the van for 35-40 minutes. If this had happened at 3 in the afternoon, the outcome could have been very, very different.

Weíve heard many times that if a child is missing, the first place you check should be the pool, and we did, even though it was completely inaccessible to a 4-year-old. However, weíve never heard that the second place you should check is the car. On a hot day, this piece of advice could be a lifesaver.

The story was not yet over. We had called the police on the direct line, rather than 911. When we found Benjamin, they had not yet arrived, so we tried to call them back to tell them that Benjamin had been found. Although we got through without any problems the first time, when we tried to call back on the direct line, we could not get through. So should we call 911 to cancel the call? We repeatedly tried to get through, without success. The police finally arrived about 30 minutes after we found Benjamin (45 minutes after the initial call.) Good thing he had already been found!

We spent the next week reliving all the other, more minor, scares that Benjamin had given us. The time when he was almost 2 when he wanted to go for a walk and Jackie wasnít quick enough for him, so he headed out by himself. He got about 300 yards away (and around 2 corners) before he was corralled. Another time that Benjamin got into the van when it was in the garage, and it was a while before Jackie thought to look in there. That was a cool day. Jackie had completely forgotten about that event until her birthday brought back the memories. And several times when he had disappeared on one parent or the other in stores.

In conclusion, allís well that ends well, right? The event made for an traumatic half an hour, but in the end, everything turned out OK. And now we will check the car second (right after the pool) if another child ever disappears around us!

Regards,

Jackie, Marc, Jonathan, and Benjamin