“We’re Not Heroes. It was the Only Right Thing to Do. When You See a Helpless Kid like That, You are Supposed to Do the Right Thing, and Just Call the Cops Right Away”

On 6 September 2014, six-year-old Sergio Zepeda, who has autism, wandered off from his home in San Jose, California. His mother, Augustina Quinteros, and her boyfriend, Bony Sanchez, searched for him for about an hour and then called police. Fortunately, the boy wandered into a camp of homeless people, one of whom, 32-year-old Jose Salmeron, took care of him. Mr. Salmeron said that he heard a noise, then he added, “I popped out of my tent and I saw a naked person. At first I thought it was an alien, like ET.” He said that he grabbed a flashlight: “I shined my flashlight at him and when I looked closer [I saw] it was a little boy.” He then yelled to his fellow campmates, “Come out, there is a naked boy out here.” Another homeless person called 911 and let the dispatcher know that a boy had been found. Police quickly arrived. Paramedics checked the boy and then took him to a hospital as a precaution. His mother and her boyfriend were reunited with him at the hospital. His mother said that he had been wearing jeans and a T-shirt when he wandered away but that most likely he had stripped them off and left them somewhere. Mr. Salmeron said about young Sergio, “I grabbed a blanket for him and gave him a doughnut, a muffin, and some water,” adding, “ He wouldn’t say anything, but I asked him if he wanted ‘agua,’ in Spanish, and he said ‘agua.’ He was really thirsty.” Mr. Salmeron does not think that he and his friends did anything special: “We’re not heroes. It was the only right thing to do. When you see a helpless kid like that, you are supposed to do the right thing, and just call the cops right away. Thank God he didn’t get hit by a train, or fall into the water.” The homeless camp is located near some train tracks. San Jose police officer and spokesman Albert Morales said, “It’s a happy ending. We’re tremendously fortunate that he was safely found. Here’s a six-year-old out in the elements, and he trekked a pretty good distance. We’re all just very happy that it ended the way it did.”

For More Information: Alex Greg, “Homeless man saves six-year-old autistic boy who wandered naked FOUR MILES from home into a vagrant camp — even giving him food and shelter until the police arrived.” Daily Mail (UK). 7 September 2014; updated 8 September 2014


For More Information: Dana Hull, “Homeless people who found missing boy declare: ‘We’re not heroes.’” Staff writer Rick Hurd contributed to this report. San Jose Mercury News (California). 7 September 2014


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