SDMRT 2019-20 Lemon Grove

SDMRT Operations Report 2019-20

Full Callout – Missing Person, Lemon Grove, CA

Josiah De la Motte

21 November 2019

SDMRT Responders: Richard Yocum, and en route: Dennis Peck, Sukhyung Shin, and Bill McNaul

SDMRT ITC: Hugo Bermudez

Other Responding Organizations: SDSDSAR and SD County Sheriffs

Short Summary:

  • Type of callout: Full
  • In-county or if mutual aid: In-county
  • Type of search: Search for missing person
  • Environment: Urban
  • Location:
    • PLS/LKP at subject’s home, at 1675 Cameron Drive, Lemon Grove, CA, 91945.
    • CP at Monterey Heights Elementary School, 7550 Canton Drive, Lemon Grove, CA, 91945 (11S MS 96854 20510).
    • Subject returned to his home on foot at his own will at approx. 1830 hours.
  • Operational period:
    • Earliest time of activity: SAR callout request at 1701 hours on 11/21/19 for operational period beginning immediately.
    • Search ended on 11/21/19, when subject located, with 10-22 issued at 1841 hours.
  • Information about the subject:
    • Number/names of subjects: 1 subject, Josiah De la Motte o Age/Gender: 17-year-old boy o Level of fitness and preparedness: Good physical fitness
    • Mental status: Subject reported to have autism, but has not been medically evaluated and takes no medications.
    • Injuries, if applicable: None reported.
    • How were they found : Subject returned to his home on foot at his own will at approx. 1830 hours.
  • Any rescuers injured: None known
  • Aircraft used: ASTREA helicopter

Descriptive Report

17 year-old-boy Josiah De la Motte became upset after dropping and damaging his expensive violin bow, was inconsolable, and ran out away from his house without telling anywhere where he was going. He was reported to have autism but apparently has not been formally diagnosed or medically evaluated for this condition, and takes no medications. After going missing, his family was interviewed by the Psychological Emergency Response Team and a mental health clinician, who determined that the diagnosis of autism might be accurate. The family of 9 children and both parents is very close-knit, keeps to themselves, travels together as a group to the grocery store, and homeschools all the children. The family is very musical and performs as and has a Facebook page for the “De la Motte Strings.” Josiah has no cell phone, watch, computer, or involvement in social media, and no friends in the area. He was never reported missing in the past. Josiah is 6.2” and 160 pounds, red hair, pale complexion, brown eyes, and last seen wearing a dark blue shirt, black sweatpants, and grey shoes.

The dad started his own search of the area after about 1 hour over concerns about Josiah’s safety. They notified the Sheriff’s department at 1540 hours. Initial search efforts included interviewing the family, deputies searching the surrounding area, ASTREA, BOLOs to local MTS and several other agencies, checking local hospitals and clinics, and checking for any local reports of pedestrian accidents. No clues were identified and SAR was activated at 1701 hours.

After MC5 and multiple SDSDSAR personnel had arrived at the CP, while setting up the CP but before any teams were deployed, the subject was reported to have returned home on foot at his own will, uninjured, at approx. 1830 hours.

Sgt. George invited several SAR personnel to interview the missing subject. Jim and Cathy Metts and Richard Yocum talked to Josiah at his home in the presence of his family. Josiah was very engaged, articulate, and expressed embarrassment at running off and having many LE and volunteers involved in the effort to find him. He initially followed the same route that he uses for his frequent exercise walks, but then kept going while looking for a bush to hide under. His route took him down Cameron Drive to Lansing Drive, up Skyline Drive, past the 711 on Palm Street, and he finally found some bushes to hide under in front of the Lemon Grove Academy at 7866 Lincoln St, Lemon Grove, 1.1 miles direct distance from his home. It is estimated that he walked 2.5 to 3 miles round trip.

Josiah De La Motte

Search Area

Lessons learned/ suggestions for future operations:

None identified.