The Amber Alert system, designed to boost the signal of alert for a missing child or children, did exactly what it was supposed to do when a pair of eagle-eyed truckers boxed in a parent and child who were the subject of an alert in Tennessee.
The truckers in question had heard the Amber Alert shortly before they spotted the pair, and local news sources say that 23-year-old Austin Whitehead was the father fingered by the missing child notification service.
Whitehead is said to have argued with his wife, and the disagreement escalated to a physical altercation. The husband and father then fled the home with the couple’s 2-year-old son Cael Whitehead, managing to travel about 150 miles before he encountered the truckers.
Jim Lowe is one of the truckers who helped apprehend Whitehead after the Amber Alert, and Lowe says he was about 170 miles from where Whitehead was last seen when he spotted the teal Pontiac Grand Am mentioned in the bulletin.
Houston County Sheriff Darrell Allison explains that there was some concern about Cael Whitehead’s safety in the wake of the Amber Alert:
“We went to the residence and found the mother and her 1-year-old child there … The mother had sustained some injuries. At that point, the mother said he had taken the child from the residence, and the child had no clothing except some underwear.”
Lowe had to think on his feet — and says that he pinged a few other of his fellow truck drivers as Whitehead drove with son Cael in the vehicle implicated in the Amber Alert:
“About the time I read the Amber Alert the car passed us … We hollered at a couple other trucks up ahead of us and let them know what was going on. They kind of held traffic up in front of us. We just stayed in front of him and slowed him down.”
As Lowe and trucker friend Austin Morris worked on boxing Whitehead in so he could flee no further with the boy, truck drivers a few miles back reported an approaching state trooper with lights flashing and sirens blaring.
Lowe says by that point, Whitehead had no way to give chase:
“He didn’t have anywhere to go, unless he ran through us … He couldn’t get through us, so he just kind of eased over and kind of gave up.”
After the truckers used the Amber Alert to help cops retrieve the toddler, Lowe says that he feels lucky to have been in the right place at the right time:
“I’m just glad that little kid is safe at home tonight in his own bed … I guess that’s just where God meant for me to be … I’d just say there are still a few real truck drivers out here. I wouldn’t consider myself a hero.”
After the Amber Alert and trucker rescue, the child was handed over to social services until his mother could make the trip to pick him up.