Police in Garden Grove, California, are calling a local homeless man a hero after the man helped reunite a frightened mother with her missing autistic son Wednesday evening.
The Orange County Register reports 17-year-old Charles Truong wandered away from his mother while the two were shopping at a local supermarket around 2 p.m.
Worried, the mother sought the help of Garden Grove police officer David Chang who began searching the neighborhood and showing the teen’s picture to people, asking that they be on the lookout for him.
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One of those people was 37-year-old Ian Hinton, a homeless man from the neighborhood, well-known to Chang.
Hinton told KTLA News that he spotted Truong a few hours later near a busy intersection, not far from where he had disappeared. He said the teen was obviously scared and was waving his hands in the air.
Hinton recognized Truong from the picture Chang had shown him and began asking passersby to call for help on their cellphones.
“I’m like, damn, he needs help. We gotta call his mom, gotta call 911, gotta call Garden Grove,” Hinton told KTLA. “I just went out of my way to be a good Samaritan.”
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The first two people Hinton asked for help declined to let him use their cellphones, Chang said. The third person, a woman, agreed to help and contacted police.
Truong was reunited with his mother after having been missing for about five hours.
Chang said Hinton’s actions should serve as a lesson to others.
“You can make a difference,” the officer told KTLA. “Just like him. It might not be for anything returned, but you can definitely change someone’s life and he did last night.”
For his efforts Hinton was awarded the Garden Grove Police Chief’s Coin of Merit.
Both Hinton and the woman who made the 911 call will be honored at an upcoming dinner and special reception hosted by the Garden Grove Police Department.
Photo Credit: KTLA News