I don’t encounter a lot of kids on my job. My company, iBeam Solutions, offers technology, not child care. We handle everything from phone systems to websites for some 2,000 clients in the central Ohio area. But on July 26, 2004, I was headed out to install a firewall for a special client—the Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies. By protecting their systems, I’d be working indirectly to help kids all around the state. Little did I know that I’d soon play a direct role in the lives of four children I’d never met.
As I drove along I-70, looking to make my 10 a.m. appointment in downtown Columbus, I noticed one of the highway information signs flashing an Amber Alert: “Children abducted…,” followed by a description of the car involved. I turned back to the road and there it was—the car described on the sign.
I quickly called my employee, Jeff Guiler, who was following me, and asked him to confirm the plate number on the sign. Sure enough, I was right behind the vehicle that likely contained four kids and their kidnapper.
My Marine Corps experience helped me focus on what I had to do next: call 911 and tell them what I’d seen. The dispatcher asked me to follow the car until officers could arrive. As we drove, I gave the operator a moment-by-moment account of what was happening. I was so focused on the car that I didn’t even notice when the police officers arrived, just in time to follow the suspect’s vehicle into a gas station, where they found the kids.
I stopped to talk briefly with the officers and then continued to my appointment. Later that day, I was told that the kids had been kidnapped by their step-grandfather, a convicted child molester. A few weeks later, I met the children and their parents at a reunion sponsored by a local military club. Since then, the mid-Ohio chapter of the Amber Alert organization offered me a position on their board, which I will share with my wife.
It was quite an experience, this sense of doing the right thing. It’s hard to top the joy of making something awful come out all right.
—As told to Christopher Lindquist