Broken hearts were mended early Friday morning when sheriff’s deputies returned a preteen boy who had vanished from his Tesoro del Valle home, north of Valencia.
11-year-old Christopher Cova disappeared Thursday evening after leaving home with his skateboard, according to a relative.
Parents contacted the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station when the boy didn’t return for his nightly curfew, relatives confirmed.
News of Cova’s disappearance soon spread to neighbors and classmates as the missing child’s family phoned multiple locations in search of their son.
Late night social media postings drew even more attention to the Cova family’s pleas for Christopher’s safe return.
At 10:45 p.m., search and rescue teams were requested to comb the dark and brushy landscape, a sheriff’s official said.
By 11 p.m., about 60 people from across all points of the Santa Clarita Valley put their evening plans on hold, with some rising out of bed to aid in locating the junior high school student.
Flashlights in hand, the mass of volunteers scoured the bone dry San Francisquito Creek, each of them voicing their concerns for Christopher.
“I sure hope he’s okay,” a man aiding in the search said.
“There are plenty of coyotes in the wash area out here.”
One woman, who revealed herself as a relative, was visibly inconsolable as local search and rescue crews poured into the desolate creek bed.
Several Facebook postings drew more searchers including members of the Southern California Road Recovery Facebook group who arrived en masse when they heard of the situation.
A convoy of pickup trucks poured into the creek. Their bright red taillights were swallowed by darkness as the echoes of boisterous diesel engines drowned out volunteers shouting the missing boy’s name.
By midnight, Sue Reynolds and her scent dog Nudel had arrived on scene and covered about one and a half miles of ground.
At a few minutes past 1 a.m., a tense silence enveloping the command post was shattered by the voice of a woman who claimed the boy was found.
“They have him, they have him,” she shouted, throwing her hands in the air as she ran toward the Cova residence.
Deputies on scene had not verified her claims and motioned for her to come over to their vehicle. The woman followed their command and took two steps forward before she was blanketed by the lights of about five patrol cars.
“Remain calm,” the deputy said.
“We need to know where he is and how you know this.”
The woman complied and two patrol cars fled the scene to a Santa Clarita Valley residence belonging to the missing boy’s friend, the location of the possible sighting.
A teary-eyed man, who only identified himself as a family member, seconded the woman’s claims.
“He has been found, his mother is on her way to him now,” he said.
The man dropped to his knees on the front lawn and broke into tears.
“Thank you all for helping my family,” he said fighting back sniffles as strangers offered comfort.
At this point the crowd of dozens, which had swelled to a sea of about one hundred, broke into a spirited applause.
“We’re not going to break down the (command post) until the boy is safe,” one deputy on scene said.
“We need to check him out and make sure he’s okay.”
By 2 a.m., the boy who relatives said is set to turn 12 next week, was home with his family.
Authorities believe the “lost child” situation stemmed from a miscommunication between the child and his parents as to his whereabouts.