HEMET: 3-year-old found wandering neighborhood reunited with her family
HEMET – A young girl, who was found wandering with a small dog in a gated Hemet neighborhood, started a community-wide effort to identify her via social media Tuesday, Oct. 11.
The little girl who identified herself as three-year-old Elizabeth was found lost and afraid in the Laurel Park gated community in Hemet. The community is bordered by W. Whittier and W. Johnston to the north and south and is between Arbor Parkway and Lilac Street to the east and west.
The social media frenzy began minutes after Martin Martinez posted two short video clips and a photograph of the girl and her small, but protective canine companion onto Facebook. He included the title, “Lost girl. And dog. Hpd did a great job!”
Elizabeth was found wearing what appeared to be a pajama shirt and pull up diapers.
Martinez explained to RCNS he and his friend Brian found the girl wandering through their normally quiet neighborhood between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. He later filmed portions of Hemet Police Officer “Shawn” as he interacted with the girl and offered to give her and her puppy a ride home.
Martinez said he suspected the girl and her puppy, believed to be named ‘Sonny’ somehow walked into the gated community.
While Hemet police were responding to the neighborhood and more neighbors began to hear about the little girl found lost and wandering in their gated community, more and more concerned and helpful parents and neighbors came out to help. Each offered to assist in different ways.
Martinez said different members of the community played different roles.
Someone brought Elizabeth some snacks and a juice box. While Elizabeth shyly waited, some of the adults went door to door looking for her family, a few of the adults kept the little wanderer company while others drove around the neighborhood, looking for anyone who appeared to be frantically searching for a child.
Martinez downplayed his part in helping the little girl, saying modestly, “Honestly, the whole neighborhood helped out.”
“As a community we look after one another,” Martinez explained.
At first when Officer Shawn asked Elizabeth if she and her puppy wanted to go with him, she seemed a bit afraid and didn’t move. At least until one of the parents said, “We’re gonna get you a ride home, to find your mama,” Elizabeth immediately jumped up off the curb where she had been sitting and enthusiastically exclaimed, “Oh, yeah!”
In a telephone interview, Hemet Police Corporal Hall said the young girl had been identified, reunited with her family and had made it back home safely.
Officers handling the investigation learned Elizabeth had been left in the care of an older sibling who was supposed to be watching the young girl.
At some point little Elizabeth decided to get up and go for a walk.
Thankfully, her faithful dog Sonny joined her to her to keep her company and to keep a safe, watchful pair of canine eyes on her at all times.
When Martinez was told Elizabeth had made it home safely to her family, he said, “That’s a blessing. I’m glad that she made it home safely.”
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Trevor Montgomery spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg in an off-duty accident.
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including the Robert Presley Detention Center, the Southwest Station in Temecula, the Hemet Station, and the Lake Elsinore Station, along with many other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, Personnel and Background Investigations and he finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator.
Trevor has been married for more than 26 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 12 – soon to be 13 – grandchildren.