SANTA MARIA – A 19-year-old Santa Maria resident with Autism is back home safely after what could have been a life-threatening experience. At approximately 2:10 p.m. on January 28, 2017, the caretakers at his residential home discovered he was missing. They contacted the Santa Barbara County Public Safety Dispatch center to report the emergency. Thanks to the fact that the missing at-risk teenager’s family had signed him up with Project Lifesaver, he was wearing a transmitter that was able to pinpoint his location.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue (SBCSAR) team and a Santa Barbara County Sheriff/Fire Air Support Unit helicopter were deployed. SBCSAR team members used the electronic monitoring system to direct Air Support to the area where the signal was coming from. At approximately 5:15 p.m., Air Support spotted the missing teenager swimming in a reservoir located approximately five miles from the residential home. The unseasonably cold water was up to his neck and indications were that he had been there for some time and could have easily drowned. Fortunately, Air Support was able to lead a Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team member and a Sheriff’s Volunteer to his location.

The Sheriff’s Volunteer knew the missing teenager from periodically changing the batteries on his Project Lifesaver bracelet. When the teenager heard his familiar voice, he agreed to reach his hands out and was pulled over the slippery water basin to safety.

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