FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A registered nurse answered the call of duty when she spotted a boy with special needs wandering the streets of Oakland Park alone.
As Brookley Harper-Cauvin drove home Thursday night, the mother of three had no idea she was about to save a life.
“It was a surprise, and then kind of curiosity, and then a fear,” she said.
The professional caretaker was heading east along Commercial Boulevard, near Interstate 95, when she spotted a child walking by himself.
“He was in a T-shirt, underwear and no shoes, so … I started looking around for his parents,” said Harper-Cauvin. “I didn’t see any parents, and I just kept thinking to myself, ‘Nobody’s seeing this? How come nobody’s seeing this?'”
She dialed 911 and circled around in an attempt to keep an eye on the boy. “I kept passing him, he kept putting his hands up to his ears,” she said. “I then got really, really concerned, and that’s kind of when the nurse kicked in.”
Harper-Cauvin suspected the child was on the autism spectrum. She watched him dodge traffic.
Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies showed up shortly after. “The lights and the noise and the cars, I think it kind of sent him into a tailspin,” said Harper-Cauvin, “and he took off running.”
The nurse followed deputies as they were able to corner the boy by a guardrail. “I said, ‘Please don’t touch him, just don’t touch him. Please don’t touch him. I think he’s autistic,'” she said.
Harper-Cauvin then approached the boy. “As I walked up to him, I started talking to him in a calm voice, and I asked him what his name was,” she said. “All he would say was ‘what, what, what’ to the police car, and he jumped right into the police car, but then he went as far as he could into the police car, into the corner. Then he kind of went into the fetal position.”
As it turns out, the boy had been reported missing by his mother an hour earlier from his home in Pompano Beach — at least four miles away.
What Harper-Cauvin didn’t understand is why no one else called police. “He must have passed hundreds of people,” she said. “From Pompano to Fort Lauderdale, that’s a long way for him to go past all these cars, and no one would do anything, nobody said anything. I was terrified for this little boy.”
The health professional said the incident serves as a reminder that anyone is capable of saving lives. “If you look around, any one of those other people that had stopped at that stop sign could have saved a life,” she said.
The boy was later reunited with his mother.
Harper-Cauvin also took the opportunity to praise the BSO deputies who responded to help the boy. She said the way they handled the situation was just right.
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