Tuesday, June 19, 2007


If one of my girls got lost, would she become a Benjy or a Hannah? Did Benjy's autism play a role in his death? Did he know to look for berries? For shelter? How did Hannah know to pull herself out of the water using a branch. Did she just know? Would my Bella know? Mia? Gianna?

God bless both children. One in heaven. One on earth.

Missing Autistic Boy's Body Found in Creek

The body of a missing seven-year-old was found late this morning in a creek not far from his home in Wood County. Benjy Heil had been missing since Thursday when he disappeared from his home in Saratoga. Sheriff's officials say the boy's body was found about 11 A.M. by a team of dogs and handlers along Ten Mile Creek. It's less than a mile south of his home. Volunteer searchers were urged to leave the scene and return home. Authorities plan a news briefing at 4 P.M. in Saratoga.

Missing girl, 5, walks out of woods Searchers were looking for body

June 16, 2007

MOMENCE, Ill. – A 5-year-old girl who was feared drowned with her grandfather on a boating trip startled searchers yesterday when she emerged from the woods – naked, scratched and holding raspberries. Crews had pulled her grandfather's body from the Kankakee River in eastern Illinois just hours earlier.

“People were like, 'Who's that little girl? That can't be her, can it?' ” Kankakee Sheriff's Chief Deputy Ken McCabe said. “I went up to her (and) asked, 'How you doing? What's your name?' ”
When authorities told Hannah Klamecki's family – already grieving the loss of her grandfather – that she was alive, the home erupted in screaming.

Hannah was taken to a hospital as a precaution. She slept with her parents and a teddy bear at her side before being released. Cradling the bear, she spoke freely of her ordeal last night.

“I was scared last night when everybody was gone,” she said. “I went searching all over the world to look for the cottage (where her grandparents live).”

Hannah had scratches on her face and body and thick dirt under her nails. She had poison ivy rashes on her legs and couldn't walk because splinters and thorns had cut her feet.
Hannah and her grandfather, David Klamecki, 62, were last seen Wednesday evening on the river near Momence, about 45 miles south of Chicago.

Authorities believe the river current swept the girl away from a small island where she and her grandfather had stopped to swim and to the shore where she eventually was found.
She told searchers she was wearing floats on her arms and pulled herself from the water with a branch.

“That's a tough little girl, I tell you,” McCabe said.

Hannah said she had taken off her bathing suit because it was muddy and itchy, friends of the family said. She was also a bit dehydrated and “very, very tired,” said a spokesman at the Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee. Yesterday morning, searchers found her grandfather's body near the island, which is close to a part of the river locals call “Whirlpool Bend” because of strong currents from the union of the river and two tributaries.

The surrounding area is wilderness with no homes and is populated only by coyotes and deer, Momence Fire Chief Dave Horn said.

Richard Wehrle, a friend and neighbor of David Klamecki's, said the area is notoriously treacherous.

“Anybody who knows that river knows that that's the deadliest part of the river,” Wehrle said.
The girl's footprints were still visible on the island beach. Searchers believed she had drowned and were scouring the area with a team of divers, sonar equipment and a helicopter.

Hannah appeared just before 10:30 a.m. on the mainland shore, McCabe said.
Hannah was reunited with her parents, who were waiting with family and friends at the grandparents' home. She calmly sat in a rescue vehicle when her parents saw her, her father said.

“She didn't say much,” Mike Klamecki said. “She was eating her banana looking at us. We were jumping around like maniacs.”

* If you hear of a child with autism who is missing, please tell the authorities to find any nearby water and search immediately. I don't know if it's a spiritual thing, an astrological thing, or Satan's warped sense of humor, but so many of our kids gravitate to water. You've heard me talk about the "crapisode", right? To learn more about emergency management for children with autism go HERE


Susan Senator said...


Poor little boy.

Allison said...

I don't think I've stopped crying since I heard. I often think that my son is the kind of kid who would break into someone's house to feed himself and get a drink. But WATER is a different story. If water were a factor in where he was...... We almost lost him to a near drowning right in front of me 2 summers ago. Some of our kids have a strange fear/fascination that is beyond dangerous. The incredible need to do everything I can to teach him how to swim this year has overcome me from this terrible tragedy.

This was a really important post. Will they forever need us to be there to prompt them to kick and swim? Maybe the skills of survival can be taught, maybe not. I just don't know, but I damn well will try.

Drama Mama said...

Thank you, Kim.
So sad.

Laura said...

That is very sad. Hutton ran off last month from a party (posted about it on my blog). He hadn't done it in years, so I wasn't prepared. When he was into "elopement" at 2 1/2 to 3, he ended up at the end of our street once -- waist deep in Bear Creek. Sweet Jesus. I have had my heart stop so many times, and every time I have been lucky enough that he didn't decide to follow through with: swimming, running into traffic to get a close look at the traffic light, etc. I don't know about the survival skills, either. At school the other day they were teaching the kids about unknown dogs and how to not approach them, which I remind Hutton every time we go outside, since our neighbors have German shepherds in their fenced-in yard. Hutton can climb the fence, but if he ever chooses to and their dogs are out...Yeah, I'm ready to move after reading what I've typed!

irene said...

All three of my kids love the water. My John, now 7 yo, can swim fine in a pool but a river or creek or lake is a MUCH different scenario. He's recently figured out the locks on the front door and likes to open and shut while playing with the outside light switch. Makes me a bit nervous with our impending move. Does anyone else feel a bit leary of notifying police about your child's autism? I've become rather cynical about trusting authorities lately.

Mom without a manual said...

Quite the contrast in those stories.

I have been so sad since this Wisconsin tragedy. Then another family on a yahoo group lost a son in a fire. I feel so much grief for these families.

Then I get panicked as I think how to prepare my son so that we can keep him safe. This world is just such a scary place. I worry that
this job is getting way bigger than we can ever manage!

My heart is very heavy these days.

Stephen Parrish said...

My cousin's grandson wandered into a neighbor's pond and wasn't found until it was too late. His parents had only let him out of their site for a minute.

Turns out a minute is way too long if bodies of water are nearby.

Oh C@!p it's only 6 sleeps to summer hols said...

Thankfully storeis like these are shocking because they are rare events, it's not somehting we're used to happening....doesn't take away the sharp focus of our own situations though does it? We have keypad locks on doors and the garden gate and maglocks on cupboard doors in an effort to keep our girls safe but have now discovered we have to get heavy wooden garden furniture as little Miss Monkey has discovered she's tall enough and strong enough to stand on a chair and haul herself over the 6' wooden fence. Thank the Lord there's nothing more sneeky than an autism mum!! Chin up girls! We're winning!!

linda3411 said...

Benjy received his ultimate healing from autism on June 14, 2007. He is free at last, "free to run with the angels on streets of gold!" He will be missed!

We ask for prayers for Benjy's family as they bury him tomorrow.

Benjy's Aunt Linda

Kim Stagliano said...

Oh, Linda. Would you contact me OFFLIST? My email is KimStagliano @ gmail.com?

Me heart goes out to you. My neighbor istalled an above ground pool four days ago = no fence. Benjy's life and death weigh heavily on me, on all of us, especially the autism Moms who know all too well how fast tragedy can strike our kids.

Thank you for commenting here.