JETERSVILLE, Va. — A 13-year-old Virginia boy apparently loaded his family’s pickup truck with food, clothes and his dog, hitched up a trailer with two horses in tow and drove nearly 1,300 miles to Texas, police said. The teen’s parents found him safe Friday.
Police are unsure why the boy ran away Wednesday morning from his Jetersville-area home. He apparently was well-prepared, even bringing extra propane tanks along.
Wyatt E. McLaughlin was found about 2 p.m. Friday on a rodeo grounds near Weatherford, Texas, where he had performed several times before. His parents looked for him there on a hunch, said Sgt. Tom Cunningham, a Virginia State Police spokesman.
“These all don’t turn out well,” Cunningham said Friday night. “We’re pleased to report the outcome was positive.”
Surveillance video from a gas station in Mount Pleasant, Texas, appeared to show the boy pumping gas Thursday into his family’s pickup truck. The parents flew to Texas to view the video and believed the boy on the tape was their son, Cunningham said.
“Then (they) took the initiative and went to places they thought the boy may be,” Cunningham said.
The rodeo grounds are at least two hours away from the gas station, but “is a place the family had been to on several occasions and Wyatt had participated in rodeos.”
Cunningham said he wasn’t sure how the family found out about the video but said they made several phone calls to Texas rodeo connections.
The family had no listed telephone number.