TPD helicopter unit helps rescue boy stranded in woods

TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa Police Department’s Helicopter Unit says teamwork helped bring a young boy home.

-FOX23 News told you about the six-year-old boy that crews recovered in the woods in Osage County Thursday night. Police say the boy’s father, Dominic Saunders, abandoned the child in a car.

-Osage County deputies arrested the man earlier that evening for burglary and grand larceny charges.

-Pilot in Command, Jayson Smith, says they received a call around 10:30 p.m. to help assist crews searching for the child. They say the child was missing in the area of 4100 W 69th St. North and was possibly in a car.

-The officers say dispatch was able to talk with the family as well as the child after the boy called a family member on a cell phone that belonged to Saunders.

-Smith said there’s always an urgency when it comes to finding a missing person but added, “I’m a father, I have a son at home, and I can only imagine what the kid was thinking being out there by himself.”

-Tactical Flight Officer Jason Busby says they use thermal heat imaging at night to help during searches like this; however, he says the wooded area was thick with vegetation and the car was hidden beneath trees. Busby says with the help of dispatchers the boy was able to flash the headlights of the car and honk the car horn to signal to both crews in the sky and on ground. Busby says after they received the location where Saunders was arrested, it took about 10 minutes to find the child safe inside the car.

-Smith added, “In conjunction with the child’s actions, turning on the lights and honking the horn so officers could hear, it really just came together.”