Missing nearly 10 hours, it wasn’t until a postal worker spotted a 2-year-old boy wandering barefoot along a highway that Ethan Adeyemi was rescued.
“It was God-ordained that I be in that place at that time,” Keith Rollins, an employee of the U.S. Postal Service, told WUSA-TV. “Remarkable man, remarkable.”
Howard County police officers told the local news outlet, Ethan Adeyemi, who is believed to be on the autism spectrum, ran away from family members outside his home in Elkridge around 10:20 p.m. Wednesday night.
Soon after, Ethan’s family notice he was missing and immediately called the police, who dispatched K9 units, helicopters, squad cars, aircraft, drones, and firefighters to search for the little boy. Neighbours joined the search, too. But to no avail.
It wasn’t until around 8 a.m. Thursday that Rollins saw the top of “a little head” as he drove down the highway. After approaching cautiously, the postal worker realised it was a lost toddler who had hypothermia.
“He was there shivering, cold,” Rollins recalled. “He only had a pair of sweatpants and sweatshirt, no shoes or socks. So I walked up to him. I said, ‘Hey, buddy. How you doing? What’s your name? Are you OK?’ He looked at me, but I didn’t get a response from him.”
Because he is likely on the spectrum, Ethan is not yet verbal, police said. He does, though, clap whenever he hears his name.
“Once I didn’t get a response from him, I decided to just scoop him up, and I took him to my vehicle,” said Rollins, a grandfather to a 4-year-old girl. “I had a sweater that I tried to cover him up with, and turned up the heat and I called the police back and said that I had the little boy in my vehicle, and within a matter of minutes, the police were there.”
Neighbours and first responders were eager to cast Rollins as a hero.
There’s no doubt his actions were heroic and that his discovery was nothing short of incredible. But Rollins takes no credit. Instead, he gave thanks to God for giving him the opportunity to save little Ethan, who was obviously shielded by his angels from Wednesday night to Thursday morning when he was found by a good samaritan, Rollins and not a pedophile.
“Giving glory to God that I was able to help at that particular time and be in the correct place at the right time,” said Rollins. “But a hero? Nah, not at all.”