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Jul-20-2010 17:17printcomments

Missing Man with Autism Located Safe and Sound

The man was spotted by a passer by who saw a media report about his missing status.

Erick Svoboda
Erick Svoboda

(SALEM, Ore.) - A 30-year old Salem man missing since Friday has been located and is OK. Erick Svoboda took a bicycle ride Friday and never returned home. His family has been very concerned, as Erick is autistic, and they had no idea where he was.

Salem Police Lt. Dave Okada, says Erick was located today in the 4600 block of Portland Road, after he was identified by a passing motorist who had observed his image in a media report.

His family has expressed frustration with both police and media; as police didn't initially taking a missing person report, and only and FOX-12 in Portland apparently found the story worthy of coverage.

Salem's own newspaper, the Statesman Journal, never carried the story in spite of the obvious potential for harm that this individual faced. Police have protocol which prevents them from responding to missing adult cases the way they do over missing juveniles.

Okada says Mr. Svoboda was taken to Salem Hospital for an evaluation, though he apparently was not injured.

Still, police officers, regardless of the rules, always grow increasingly concerned over missing people, regardless of the limitations they face. Okada said, "Its just good news, obviously people were concerned about his whereabouts and so were we. The fact that he was located is fantastic and we're especially happy for the family."

For some reason this particular case really grabbed our attention at I have a family friend who suffers from autism and is the same age as Erick; maybe that is why we were affected.

Either way, this is my description of a good news day.

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. You can send Tim an email at this address:

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Victoria July 21, 2010 5:35 pm (Pacific time)

Thanks for covering the rest of the story: autistics are growing up, and we will definitely need to change laws so parents are better able to keep them safe and protected.

Anonymous July 21, 2010 3:53 pm (Pacific time)

Tim, It is good to know that there are still people out there that are capable of doing the right thing!

Anthony July 21, 2010 2:11 pm (Pacific time)

Thanks for covering this story Tim. What a relief that Erick was found safe. I'm concerned about the police dept's protocal on this. Do they also refuse to help lost Alzheimer's patients?

Xyzzy July 21, 2010 12:51 am (Pacific time)

I came here from the Autism Women's Network blog -- I'm very relieved that the guy was found, I hope that nothing bad happened to him in the meantime. I've read a few too many news stories of guys like him being lured away, then tortured or killed by people that hate folks like us. Rare, but it does happen. Maybe it is time for Oregon voters to reconsider the rule that police refuse to look for adults? It certainly isn't the norm in many other states, and the quicker we find a missing person, the more likely they are to survive...

Osotan; July 20, 2010 9:13 pm (Pacific time)

yeah.,a good news day,great ending.

Semper fi Brother

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