South Jersey family thanks troopers, neighbors who helped find 4-year-old son lost in woods

"It's just so scary. Everything can change in a second," said Parker's mom, Vickey.

Beccah Hendrickson Image
Tuesday, April 4, 2023
Family thanks troopers who rescued son, 4, lost in woods
"It's just so scary. Everything can change in a second," said Parker's mom, Vickey.

BUENA VISTA TWP., New Jersey (WPVI) -- A South Jersey family is thanking the state troopers and neighbors who helped them find their son after he wandered into the woods behind their home last week.

Jason, the father of 4-year-old Parker, says he and his son were making cupcakes last Tuesday. He left the room for a second to use the bathroom. When he came back, Parker and their black lab Toby were gone.

"It's just so scary. Everything can change in a second," said Parker's mom, Vickey.

Jason says their home backs up to woods and a golf course. The second he realized he couldn't see his son, he went into panic mode and began searching. He called his wife.

SEE ALSO: VIDEO: New Jersey troopers rescue missing 4-year-old boy in the woods

A mother's prayers were answered when New Jersey State Police troopers rescued her child who was lost in the woods.

"'I can't find Parker,'" Jason told Vickey. She responded, telling him to call the police.

He searched for an hour before calling his wife, Vickey, and then the police.

"To me, it was a blink of an eye. When you're in that panicked of a moment, time has no concept," said Jason.

"The only thing that went through my head was 'get home now,'" said Vickey.

Police and neighbors combed through the woods and golf course.

"We didn't want him to be out there all night because who knows what could happen," said Trooper Ian Emmi.

Luckily, the next-door neighbor, Victoria, heard Parker crying in the woods. Troopers rushed in and found both Parker and Toby about a quarter mile from the home. Trooper Emmi's body cam video was on as he sprinted toward the pair.

"'Come here. You're OK,'" Emmi can be heard telling Parker on the video.

"Originally saw the dog jumping around doing circles so I figured he had to be close by if the dog was there," Emmi said.

As soon as Vickey caught up to Emmi, the trooper handed her Parker. You can hear her sigh of relief in the video.

A week later, the family gathered at the state police barracks in Williamstown to thank the heroes who saved their son.

They also wanted to update everyone on one part of the video. While he was missing, Parker lost his shoes and he could be heard crying "I want my shoes" when troopers found him.

Monday, he was proudly sporting a new pair.

"I'm eternally grateful," said Vickey.

The family says they've already made security upgrades to their home, including putting an alarm on the door that goes off anytime it opens.