Child with autism reunited with family after wandering away from Polk County home

A three-year-old boy who was reported missing early Tuesday morning had an emotional reunion with his family after he was found alive by a neighbor. 

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the child, who has autism, was reported missing around 3 a.m. from the Acorn Court area of unincorporated Davenport.

Deputies say the child and his family were visiting from out of town and family members last heard and checked on the child around 1 a.m.

A 3-year-old boy with autism who deputies say wandered away from his home early Tuesday morning has been reunited with his family.

A 3-year-old boy with autism who deputies say wandered away from his home early Tuesday morning has been reunited with his family. 

According to investigators, a family member noticed the front door of the residence was wide open around 2:45 a.m. and the boy was gone. 

READ: Missing mother last seen at Oldsmar Walmart found safe: Deputies

The PCSO aviation unit, drone unit marine unit and K9 unit were called out to search for the child. 

Karyna Minchala knew something was wrong Tuesday morning. Not only were there sheriff’s deputies canvassing her neighborhood, but she also saw the alert on her phone. 

"I heard a lot of helicopters going around. My dogs were barking," Minchala said. "And then I looked at an app that I have for the neighborhood. It said that someone was missing."

Around 7 a.m., Minchala said she started looking.

"I immediately said, let me go check the bins. Let me check under the car. I have a little bench outside. I checked my Ring camera, there was nothing there," Minchala said.

When her next door neighbor came outside, Minchala asked him if he knew anything about the missing boy.

"And he says, there’s a little kid laying in my swing. I said, no way," Minchala said. "I said, really?!"

She rushed over – and couldn’t believe her eyes.

"I was telling him, baby, baby, wake up, wake up, because I didn’t know at that point if he was okay. I was like baby, wake up," Minchala said. "I tapped him, and then he looked up. And I said baby, you want to go see Mommy? And he was like, mommy, mommy yeah, mommy -- that’s all he said. And he came towards me."

Minchala immediately called 911. 

Around 7:20 a.m., PCSO says detectives found the missing boy sleeping on a neighbor’s porch less than half a mile from where the family was staying. 

Minchala told FOX 13 the child didn’t want to let her go, so deputies brought the child’s parents to her.

"It was just so emotional. Just seeing them reunite again," Minchala shared. "I’m happy that I found him safe. That we found him safe. Because it was just not me, it was also my neighbor."