North Battleford, Saskatchewan – Little Emma O’Keeffe is safely in the arms of her mother and took a nap after being found still strapped in her car seat early Monday morning.
She was inside her mother’s SUV when someone stole the running vehicle while mother Alison O’Keeffe made a quick run to a store in a strip mall on Sunday – sparking an Amber Alert and a massive search.
Police undertook a huge manhunt for the suspect worrying that Emma, 6, who needs medication every 12 hours, would be hurt if she wasn’t found in time. The child is autistic and has epilepsy, she can’t speak and walk properly.
The vehicle was found abandoned just a few kilometres from the place where it was stolen and Emma was taken to a hospital for treatment. She had been missing for 13 hours.
Her frantic mother, Alison O”Keeffe had made a tearful video plea for the return of her child. She made other appeals on Facebook. Police said the suspect likely did not realize that the child was in the back of the vehicle when he stole the Mercedes SUV.
“Words cannot express our emotions right now,” Alison said in a post on facebook.
“Emma is safe at home sleeping soundly, peacefully, surrounded by all the love in the world. The relief is indescribable. We need to thank every single person that was out looking for her, sending messages of love and prayer and every emergency member that dedicated many hours to help find Emma.”
“The whole community and all of Canada came to her rescue. We are beyond grateful. We have an amazing support system here and Patrick and I appreciate every single one of you. Our hearts are full again,” she said.
RCMP said: “This morning at approximately 6:45 am, members of the North Battleford Detachment received information from workers in a remote, industrial area within the city limits, of a vehicle parked off a paved road in some bushes. The vehicle matched the description of the missing vehicle in the Amber Alert.
“Members attended to the area with EMS personnel and located the subject of the Amber Alert inside the vehicle.
“The child was located conscious and taken to hospital to be examined and reunited with her family. She has since been discharged from hospital.”
Earlier, Emma’s mom had thanked people who drove around looking for the vehicle and the child as an Amber Alert was sounded from Alberta to Manitoba by RCMP.
“Thank you for driving searching for Emma. Please keep looking, search your properties, yards and outbuildings, even by foot,” she had said.
“She would not know to seek help and will not respond to her name being called. She won’t even know to walk along the side of the road. We need all the help we can get with her special needs, it makes it even more difficult. Please please get her home.”
Police are still looking for the suspect and have not identified him.