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Crews look for autistic 8-year-old in forest near Lake Arrowhead

September 13, 2011 |  9:00 am

Joshua Robb, missing autistic boy Facing the threat of thunderstorms, the search continued Tuesday for a severely autistic 8-year-old boy who ran away from his elementary school into the San Bernardino National Forest, authorities said.

Officials saw Joshua Robb running away from Grandview Elementary School in the Lake Arrowhead area Monday morning, apparently after squeezing  through a fence.

Staff members chased Joshua, who is 4-feet-6 and about 75 pounds, but couldn’t catch him before he ran into a nearby forest.

San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies responded within minutes of receiving a call that a boy was missing from the school, said Cindy Bachman, a spokeswoman for the agency.

“This kind of behavior where he runs off is typical,” she said, while adding that Joshua had never fled into the forest before or been gone long enough to merit a search by law enforcement.

Complicating the search is the fact that Joshua suffers from autism and is afraid of loud sounds, Bachman said.

“Loud noises or loud voices could be disturbing to him," she said. "Unfortunately, that's really the only way to search for him.”

Another factor is inclement weather: The National Weather service predicted thunderstorms in the Lake Arrowhead area Tuesday, with winds up to 20 mph.

Joshua had recently been taken from his family and placed into protective custody, his father told television crews.

The father, identified as Ron Robb by KNBC-TV, speculated his son ran from the school to return to his parents, who recently lost their home in foreclosure.

Joshua has brown hair and brown eyes and was last seen wearing a tan and gray shirt, black shorts and gray sandals.

Anyone with information was asked to call the department’s Twin Peaks station at (909) 336-0600 or (909) 387-8313.


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-- Kurt Streeter

Photo: Joshua Robb