LAWRENCEVILLE: Autistic Special Olympics athlete found miles from game

A 23-year-old Special Olympic athlete who had wandered away and went missing from his team’s soccer game at about noon Sunday at the Lawrenceville School, was found about two hours later in Hopewell Township. He was easily identifiable because he was wearing his soccer uniform, police said.
The Mercer County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Maverick and Officer David Smithson “locked on a scent” and assisted local police, firefighters and others in their search for the man, described as autistic, missing from the game at the school on Main Street in Lawrenceville.
The athlete was found unharmed, roughly 4.5 miles, away by a Hopewell Township Police patrol unit at approximately 2 p.m. on Carter Road.
Agencies responding were the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, Lawrence Township Police Department, Lawrence Township Fire Departments, the State Police Aviation Division, Hopewell Township Police and the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office K-9 tracking unit.
“The Mercer County Sheriff’s Office K-9 tracking unit has grown into a highly specialized law enforcement component assisting in the pursuit of missing persons on a moment’s notice,” said Mercer County Sheriff Jack Kemler.
The sheriff said those primarily involved in search were Mercer County Sheriff’s Detective Vito Vacirca, Lawrence Township Police Sgt. Chris Longo, patrolmen Scott Kaloiario, Tom Everest, Edwin Podbielski, Jim Vardanega and Shawn Carroll, as well as the Lawrenceville Fire Company Chief Gary Wasko and the Hopewell Township Police patrol division. 