Jason Andrews drove his family 14 hours from Binghamton, N.Y., arriving at Emerald Isle Sunday afternoon just in time to enjoy some beach time. The family set up a tent in the sand and proceeded to enjoy some sun and surf. In Emerald Isle for a big family reunion, the Andrews would soon be praying for a reunion of a different sort.
Two hours into their beach time, one of their family members went missing. Five-year old Cole Andrews wandered off down the strand, right when a family member’s watchful eye had turned momentarily to set up a video camera. A desperate search of the immediate area around the tent turned up nothing.
The family made a report to local officials and beach patrols were dispatched. Word spread among the curious beach-goers and the search was on.
Local officials deal with this type of emergency every summer when the number of beach-goers swells to the thousands. Young children can scamper away in an instant … here one minute, gone the next.
The greatest fear is the ocean and all the hazards it contains. Crashing waves and rip currents can sweep a youngster away in an instant.
The search continued for endless minutes, as anxious relatives continued to scour the area. The word spread up and down the strand … looking for a 5-year old, 4-feet tall, blue “shark” shirt. Time passed … 10 minutes, 20 minutes, nothing.
Finally, a whoop went up when word came that Cole was found about an hour after he went “missing.” Amazingly, he had walked nearly a mile down the beach from where his family was. His dad Jason says that Cole did not even know he was lost and was not afraid. He had taken up with another family and was playing with their kids.
When the beach patrol delivered young Cole back to his family, there were hugs and tears and a resounding sigh of relief. This family reunion would be even better than the big one planned while the Andrews are in Emerald Isle.
Cole’s dad has this advice for other families planning beach outings with small children: (have a) “short leash” and “don’t take anything for granted.”