A 9-year-old Salt Lake City boy found riding his bike on Interstate 215 late Friday night was not identified until Saturday night, when police were put in contact with his mother.
A couple driving on the freeway spotted the boy around 11:30 p.m., according to West Valley City Sgt. Trudy Cropper. The couple picked the boy up and took him to a nearby convenience story ay 3500 South and Redwood Road, where they flagged down a police officer.
Cropper said the boy did not know his last name or where he lived. The boy may have a speech impediment, Cropper explained, but seemingly did not suffer from mental impairment. He was also “very unkempt when we located him last night,” Cropper added.
With virtually no information to go on, police took the boy to a care center for children while they searched for his family.
Investigators finally found the boy’s mother about 8 p.m. Saturday. According to Cropper, the Salt Lake City woman had visited a Salt Lake City business while searching for the boy Friday night. The business owner later saw a news report about the boy and put police in touch with the mother.
Salt Lake City police said the boy’s mother filed a missing person report with them at 11 a.m. Saturday.
It was unclear Saturday night if the boy was still in the custody of child welfare authorities.
Cropper did not have information regarding the distance the boy traveled or how he managed to get on the freeway. She also didn’t know who had custody of the boy Saturday night, but said he may still be with child welfare authorities.
Utah Department of Human Services spokeswoman Liz Sollis said Saturday that children in the boy’s situation are usually taken to a care center, such as the Christmas Box House. The centers have staff on site at all times and are designed to make children comfortable while authorities look for family members.
Sollis said the boy could be released to his family. However, if authorities believe he would be safer in custody, they could also keep him until they hold a shelter hearing before a judge who would determine who takes custody of the child.
Authorities also could offer services to the family if warranted, such as in the case of a child with special needs.
Sollis stressed that she was speaking generally and did not have specific information about the boy found on I-215.