Plea from father of missing boy answered by many

Facebook post that went viral summed an army of searchers who found teen who got lost while running

MEMBERS OF THE Schroeder family, (from left) Mya, dad Alex, Ava, mom Amy and Mason, are happy to be back together a week after 14-year-old Mason went out for a run and got turned around and lost in the 90-degree heat.
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

When Alex Schroeder came home to pick up his son Mason for an orthodontist appointment last Tuesday, the 14-year-old had gone on a run and hadn’t returned home.

Mason’s sisters Mya, 12, and Ava, 9, told Schroeder that he had gone on a run, leaving his phone behind. As per family rules, he had told them the route he was going to take, so his dad went out to intercept him.

But Mason was nowhere to be found on the route he had told his sisters.

“This wasn’t normal for him,” Schroeder said. “At that point, I thought he just took a different route.”

After searching for him for a time, he said, he began to get worried. It was a 90-degree day and the humidity was high.

“I went from he’s lost to he’s missing to am I ever going to see him again,” Schroeder said. “It’s every parent’s nightmare.”

He called police to report Mason missing and posted a notice on his Facebook page that his son was missing, asking for help in finding him.

The response, Schroeder said, was astounding.

“There were people from everywhere who responded,” he said. “Once one or two people saw it (the post), they shared it. There were thousands of shares. It spread like wildfire.

“I was getting text and phone calls every 10 to 15 seconds. People were asking, ‘What can I do to help?’”

Volunteers scoured the Village of Fredonia, where the family lives, and the surrounding countryside. They were searching the roads and even the river, his father said.

Many people responded to Mason’s description, Schroeder said, noting Mason’s sisters recalled exactly what he was wearing.

“Almost all the tips were from people outside the area who recognized the clothing he was wearing,” he said.

About 5:30 p.m., roughly five hours after Mason went missing, Schroeder got a call from someone making their way from West Bend to Fredonia who found Mason roughly 20 miles from home.  The family rushed to pick up their son.

Mason was “very, very scared and confused,” his father said. “He was disoriented. He couldn’t talk much.

“He was past dehydrated. There was no sweat visible. He couldn’t drink anything. He was wiped out.”

Mason later told his family that when he reached the end of his regular five-mile route, he felt a burst of energy and, since he wanted to start conditioning for football, decided to keep going and take an alternate route.

But Mason couldn’t find the road he wanted to take and got turned around while searching for it, his father said. Because he didn’t have his phone, he couldn’t notify his family and couldn’t tell where he was.

“He said he kept going, looking for a store so he could call, but he couldn’t find one,” his dad said, noting the teen took Highway H beyond Highway 144. “He was looking for anything familiar and couldn’t find it.”

Mason has “started to bounce back,” his father said Friday.

The public’s response was heartening, Schroeder added, and has given the family a new appreciation for their hometown.

“Sometimes you take those things for granted,” he said. “But it never hit home harder than it did this last week.”

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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