Missing Autistic Child Found After Massive Search - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

03/20/08-Tyler

Missing Autistic Child Found After Massive Search

       A frightening experience for a Smith county family, as an autistic child went missing for over 12 hours, and is found early this morning in a wooded area unharmed. The family says it was around 7 last night when 11 year old Celeste Robinson wandered away from her home. Celeste wandered into what neighbors call the creek bottoms near her home on county road 4122 near lindale. Around 9 last night, the woods near the Stevens home was flooded with search crews desperately looking for 11 year old Celeste.

    "my daughter thought she was in the bed and she had wandered off, the concept of finding her way back , she doesn't really have" said Celestes grandfather , Hank Robinson. Nearly 2-hundred people joined in a massive search in the surrounding woods involving 3 fire departments, Smith county sheriffs deputies, Alert academy cadets, and neighbors,  as agonizing hours passed with no sign.

    "Probably the worst thing is they want us to stay up here while all the professionals go out and do their job and all I can do is stand here and wait and hope somebody else brings her up" said Celeste's father, Jessie Stevens.

    A DPS search helicopter was also brought in to pick up any heat given off of the ground. The creek bottom is only about 400 yards away from the little girls house , where she disappeared , after nearly 12 hours of searching nothing was found , leading investigators to worry about the worst possible scenario.

    "We were very concerned, there's a creek down there some ponds down there our concern was she might have fallen in a creek or pond" said Lieutenant Larry Wiggington of the Smith county sheriffs department. But one more sweep of the bottoms, found a tired, cold and hungry little girl unharmed.

   "She was alert and crying and appeared to be extremely cold" Wiggington said.

   The happy ending had searchers leaving to the tune of amazing grace.

"God was with us" Stevens says.

   Bob Hallmark reporting/bhallmark@kltv.comkltv

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