Father of autistic child creates app to help find missing loved ones
Imagine turning around for a second, only to find your child is gone. That became reality two weeks ago for Jacob and Destiny Chamberlin.
Noah Chamberlin wandered off Jan. 14 while walking in the woods near Pinson, Tennessee, with his grandmother and sister. The 2-year-old boy’s body was found eight days later.
In a situation like that, the more people who can help look for your child and the faster, the better your odds of finding them again.
It’s that fear of losing a missing child that drove one parent to create a smartphone app that could let those nearby know immediately and potentially bring children like Noah back home safely.
"Panic, fear," said Ryan Davis. "Terrifying. It’s terrifying,” said Deanna Davis. That’s what went through the parents’ minds every time their autistic son Michael would wander off. They say it used to happen all the time, no matter how hard they tried to keep him within their sights.
"Mikey got away from us, and we were scrambling around trying to find him. And everybody had phones in their hands," said Ryan Davis, talking about a family trip to Disney World when Michael ran off the second his parent’s backs were turned.
It’s what inspired Ryan to create the Whistle app. It’s a social network, but designed with an emergency button to notify anyone with the app when someone goes missing.
Michael’s sister Hailey says getting that kind of instant help would make finding her brother a lot easier.
"It definitely would have helped us out a lot back then if we would have had that kind of thing," said Hailey.
You can set filters, add a photo, even set location preferences if someone disappears.
The app can help you find people no matter where they’re hiding, so long as you have people nearby with smartphones.
"We can alert the people in the immediate area and let them know that, yes, it is an emergency situation, and this child should not be by himself. And then, hopefully, have a lot more people out there that can help us find him," said Deanna.
The Davises say they hope the app means families like theirs can find their loved ones much sooner, so they never have to go through the fear of losing a child.
Ryan says he expects his Whistle app to come out next month. It will be available free to download from both the Apple and Google Play Store.