A mother has thanked hundreds of people who took to the streets on Saturday night to search for her missing nine-year-old son.
Evan Nelson, who has autism and cerebral palsy, ran off from a birthday barbecue he was attending with his family at a house in Aveland Close, Bourne.
After the alarm was raised at about 8pm, a mass appeal went out on social media websites, including Facebook and Twitter, to help search for him.
Hundreds of people responded, joining police accompanied by sniffer dogs. A helicopter was due to be deployed but thankfully, at about 11pm, the youngster was found safe in Bourne Wood,
Three volunteers who had joined the search party – Dayle Lane, Daniel Woodland and Ian Walker - found him covered in mud, waist high in bracken near a ditch in the wood.
Evan’s parents, Kyley and Michael Nelson, of The Ashes, Peterborough, said they were overwhelmed by the community response.
Kyley said: “We were packing up to go home and we suddenly realised he was missing. It was like your worst nightmare as a parent.
“I was hysterical. We thought that was it - my mind went to all the worst things. He could have been run over, taken or have drowned because he likes water.”
Kyley said people of all ages had put aside their normal Saturday night activities to pick up their torches and join the search. She said there were people everywhere, on bikes, on foot and in cars, yelling out Evan’s name.
Kyley said: “It felt like most of the town knew he was missing by the time we found him.
“It was an amazing turnout - there were literally hundreds of people out on the streets looking for him.
“We really want to thank all the people who came out to search.
“He would not have been found without everyone’s efforts.
“It says a lot about the community spirit and compassion of the people in the town.”
Insp Mike Burnett, area policing inspector for Bourne, said “We really want to thank the public for their help and assistance in making sure the boy was all right.”
Evan, who attends The Phoenix School in Peterborough, was taken to hospital as a precaution but was released into the care of his parents at 3am on Sunday. He has now returned to school.