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'Hero' describes finding missing Pasadena boy in parking lot -- alive and well

October 18, 2010 |  6:01 pm



Rowdy Metzger first heard about the missing 3-year-old boy from a reverse-911 call that was put out Sunday afternoon by the Pasadena Police Department.

As the day wore on, he had been following Internet news reports on latimes.com for more details about what had happened to young Dylan Kurihara. Metzger realized that the boy had been missing for more than a day and that his father was under arrest.

It later emerged that Joe Kurihara had been drinking heavily at a wedding and was unable to find his son, according to Janet Pope Givens, a spokeswoman for the Pasadena Police Department. But Sunday, details were sparse and Metzger couldn’t get the story out of his mind.

When the phone rang, he grabbed for it, hoping the call would bring any new information from authorities about the fate of the boy. Finally, about 9 p.m., Metzger’s wife, Olivia, told him he needed to make a decision. “You’re either going to sit here and brood about it or you need to do something about it,” she told Metzger.

The 39-year-old father of two, including a daughter the same age as the missing boy, grabbed his stocking cap and a jacket and headed out into the misty night, offering help to Pasadena police at a command post that officers had set up about eight blocks from his house.

“I was thinking every minute that goes by is bad for the kid,” Metzger said. “If it was my kid, I would be turning the city upside down. But there’s no reason I shouldn’t do that for somebody else's kid.”

For more than an hour, he searched alleyways, bushes and dumpsters for any sign of the child. When he went back to police, they told him that many of those areas had already been scoured by police and volunteers.

At that point Metzger decided to head home. On the way, he passed a single-story garage and noticed a blue Lexus with tinted windows, with the glow of a GPS unit inside. Upon further investigation, he saw that the license plate on the vehicle matched what Pasadena police had put out to the public in the case. It was hard to see through the dark glass, but he spotted a young boy sleeping in a car seat and tapped on the window. “I saw him stirring,” Metzger said.

Then he immediately called 911. While help was on the way, Metzger opened the door and asked the boy if his name was Dylan.

“I kept on calling him by name. I told him it would be OK and I gave him a thumbs-up,” Metzger said.

The boy, who was taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital for observation, was dehydrated but authorities said he was otherwise healthy.

On Monday, Dylan was placed in the custody of Los Angeles County child welfare authorities as Pasadena police investigate Joe Louie Kurihara, 23, of West Covina, who was initially arrested on suspicion of public intoxication and resisting arrest.

As he sobered up in jail, Kurihara told police that he had been drinking heavily at a wedding Saturday at the Masonic Lodge in Pasadena and lost track of his son, Pasadena police said.

-- Andrew Blankstein