Amid search, brother finds missing La Pine-area girl

Autistic 7-year-old with Down syndrome 'has no sense of danger'

La PINE, Ore. - An extensive and growing search for a missing 7-year-old La Pine-area autistic girl with Down syndrome who wandered from home through an accidentally unlocked gate ended happily about 90 minutes later when her brother found her uninjured in the woods near their home, authorities and family members said.

Deschutes County sheriff's deputies were dispatched around 5:45 p.m. to the 16000 block of Del Pino Drive north of La Pine about the missing girl, said sheriff's Sgt. Kevin Dizney.

Julie Ryals told NewsChannel 21 her daughter, Sadie, has Down syndrome and autism, is non-verbal "and has no sense of danger. She loves to run and is great at escaping secure areas, which she did between 5 and 5:30, through a gate that had been accidentally left unlocked."

Authorities were called "as soon as she wasn't found in her usual areas close to home," Ryals said, adding that the extensive response "has me and her stepfather, Brian Ryals, in awe -- so very many people showed up to look for her and called offering help."

Dizney said several famly members and neighbors already were searching for the girl when sheriff's deputies arrived.

The Sheriff's Search and Rescue agency was dispatched, he said, and preparations were being made to use the computerized emergency phone call system to alert neighbors in the area of the missing girl, to help in the search. Bend police provided a K-9 handler with their recently acquired bloodhound, Ranger, to assist as well.

As those resources were being deployed, Julie Ryals said the girl's brother, Wilson, found her shortly before 7 p.m., as darkness had begun to fall, a quarter-mile from her home, in a wooded area east of Del Pino Drive. She was "uninjured and in good spirits," Dizney said.

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