Boy found wandering on I-17 access road

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PHOENIX – A young child who was wearing only a diaper when he was found wandering along a freeway access road Monday morning has been reunited with his parents.

Drivers called 911 to report seeing the little boy, according to Sgt. Heather Maldonado of the Phoenix Police Department.

A pair of good Samaritans reportedly stopped, picked up the child and called the police at about 7:45 a.m. The little boy was barefoot and wearing just a diaper and he reportedly ran from the people who were trying to help him.

Officers connected with the good Samaritans on the northbound access road of Interstate 17 just north of Thomas Road and took custody of the child.

“We have many honest citizens out there who are willing to help anybody,” Maldonado said. “That’s the key to good police work -- having our community help us.”

Because the 6-year-old child is autistic and unable to speak, he could not tell officers anything about himself or his parents. With that in mind, police immediately began going door to door in the area to try and find the little boy's parents.

Within 15 to 20 minutes, one of those officers was able to locate the boy's mother at an apartment complex about a quarter of a mile away from where the boy was found. The door to her third-floor apartment was wide open.

Police said as soon as the mother saw the officer, she knew what had happened and started crying.

Details are still emerging, but police said it looks like the child slipped out while the parents were sleeping despite the barriers and security they had to prevent exactly that.

The child was not injured. He and his parents have been reunited.

Officers are trying to determine just how the child managed to get out of apartment.

Child Protective Services will have to investigate, which is standard protocol in a case like this. It's not clear if any charges might be filed against the parents.