A missing boy with Down Syndrome was found within a day thanks to a search effort that spread through Facebook.
Riley Martin disappeared from his home in Nambucca Heads, New South Wales, after he chased the family dogs out of the yard, according to his mother, Bianca Graham. A couple who had heard about the missing boy online found Martin when a dog alerted them towards a bushland early Thursday, after the rescue team had paused for the night.
Martin had scratches, dirt and bruises on him, but was otherwise okay. He has been since released from the hospital and returned home.
The couple, Leif O’Brien and his partner, Sally Pratley, are from the nearby town of Kempsey. They told reporters that they found out about the search for Martin through a buy, sell and swap site that eventually led to information on the NSW Police Facebook page appealing to the public for help finding the boy. They have six children of their own, and felt they had to join the search.
The NSW Police Facebook page has over 150,000 likes, which helped to quickly spread the news of Martin’s disappearance.
“Today we’ve witnessed the power of social media in locating missing boy Riley Martin,” the NSW Police Force wrote on Facebook with a photograph of Martin. “This missing person appeal last night received more than 9,000 shares and the information contained in the appeal directly helped the rescue team to locate Riley safe and well this morning.”
The post received almost 17,000 likes and 977 shares. The police also encouraged Facebook users to like their local Eyewatch page to help spread the word about other emergencies as they happen.
“It’s the power of instant communication,” the NSW police director of public affairs Strath Gordon told the Sydney Morning Herald. “People just have to press the share button and something can reach millions of people. That’s a very powerful tool for us.”
Photo via NSW Police Force/Facebook
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