PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new notification system for missing persons was activated on Wednesday in Washington County after a 12-year-old boy was reported missing.
The new system, called MEPA, which stands for Missing and Endangered Persons Alert, provides immediate information to the public to help find those who have gone missing.
MEPA was used for the first time tonight after a 12-year-old boy in Cedar Mills drove off in his parent’s Kia Soul around 3 p.m. this afternoon. When deputies believed the child was in danger, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) put a message on reader boards across the Metro. Sgt. Danny Dipetro says messages were put up from within a 100-mile radius.
Additionally, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office was reportedly moments away from sending out an official alert to phones across the region when the child’s parents found their son at a family member’s house.
“We understood that the car was electric and the family told us there was about a 100-mile range that was left on the car, so that gave us a rough estimate of where the individual could at least go,” Diperto said. “All the way to the coastline is what we asked ODOT and that’s what they did.”
Diperto says that the Washington County Sheriff’s Office received a tip from someone on the I-205 that thought they spotted the vehicle and it turned out to be close to where the child was found.
The system was established about three months ago by ODOT and Oregon State Police. The catalyst was the case of former Cornelius Mayor Ralph Brown, who went missing in May of last year.
Brown suffered from dementia when he drove away from his home and was never seen again. Finally, a few weeks ago, search and recovery divers discovered brown inside his car in the Willamette River. In the beginning, the search for Brown brought out countless people from his community, but also brought up the question of why was there no official system that provided timely notification to the public.
Senator Janeen Sollman in Hillsboro’s District 15 pushed for this system to be established.