Lost And Found
When Larry Eynum, 10, and his 7-year-old Devonte did not come straight home after school, their mother reported them missing at approximately 3 p.m.Â Principal Juan Cordova had already left the school after celebrating their Fifth Annual FCAT-500 Rally when he received the phone call informing him the children did not arrive home.
"That emotional roller coaster is just from the high of 'whoo, we had a great time' to 'wow, two of my kids are missing,'" Cordova said.
The fourth and first grader recently moved to the Marion Oaks area.Â Normally the 1227-student school maintains a file on each student that includes a recent photograph, but the brothers had only been attending the school for 10 days.Â They live within two miles of the school, so it is school policy they can walk home alone.
"They're new, they might not know the neighborhood," Cordova said. "Maybe they took a right instead of a left where they were supposed to.Â That becomes scary."
When Marion County Sheriff Deputies learned of the missing children, all available units responded.
"Our command post was set up at the school.Â Air-1 was out, K-9 units, traffic units, numerous ground units," Marion County Sheriff's Office's Sue Livoti said.
The command post quickly jumped into action conducting an extensive search that lasted almost four hours.
"When someone goes missing, a juvenile or an adult, the first thing we do is try to get a good description of what they were wearing, a photograph so we can release it to the media and we'll set up a perimeter at the main area where they were last seen," Livoti said.
Deputies conducted a search from the school to Highway 484, but the boys were found closer than expected.Â A teacher told deputies she remembered hearing the boys talk to a friend about spending the afternoon with him and that is where they were found...outside a friend's home within walking distance to the school.
According to Cordova, this is the first time something like this has happened during his three years as principal.Â He said he is thankful the boys were found and returned home.
"There's many things that could happen in a school that are terrifying," Cordova said.Â "Losing a child comes in at a close second to the absolute worst thing that could happen."
By Ted Latiak, WCJB TV 20 News
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