Officer reunites scared 6-year-old with family on Florida beach

Friday, April 14, 2017
A Clearwater Beach officer helped this little girl reunite with her family
A Clearwater Beach officer helped this little girl reunite with her family
Credit: Amy Amerell

CLEARWATER, Florida -- A police officer in Clearwater, Florida helped a scared little girl find her family on Clearwater Beach.

The 6-year-old girl wandered away from her family Tuesday evening, according to WFLA.

A bystander's photo of the officer and child walking hand in hand drew widespread attention after it was posted on Facebook.

Clearwater police officers Rich Edmunds and Ryan Bianca had just started their shift Tuesday evening when the call came in: Child found on the beach.

Once at the beach, Edmunds found 6-year-old Hannah with a woman whose family had been enjoying the afternoon at the beach.

"She calmed the little girl down, gave her a juice box and called police," Edmunds recalled in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday.

Meanwhile, authorities learned that someone about a half-mile down the beach had approached lifeguards about a missing child. Bianca headed to the lifeguard station to meet the family. Edmunds planned to take Hannah to his patrol vehicle and drive her there.

"She was upset and didn't want to get in the vehicle," Edmunds said. "So I said, 'OK, let's walk."

As Edmunds took the child by the hand, yoga instructor Amy Amerell was walking behind them with her friend who was visiting. They immediately noticed the officer and the little girl and Amerell said she snapped a picture with her iPhone.

"It was a heartwarming interaction and the little girl was safely reunited with her family," said Amy Amerell, who took the sweet photo. "The officer was so compassionate and kind and made her feel so safe!!! It was a beautiful sight."

As they walked down the beach, Edmunds said he told Hannah she did the right thing by finding a family with children to ask for help. He said everyone needs to have a plan in case they get lost. For children, it's to approach someone with children, or an authority figure, such as a lifeguard on the beach.

Their walk ended at the lifeguard station, where Hannah's uncle was waiting for her.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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