A Hedrick Middle School student was found safe Monday night after she became confused walking home and spent roughly five hours wandering in search of a landmark she recognized, Medford police said.
The 13-year-old girl's mother called police at about 5:30 p.m. to report that the girl, who was walking home from school for the first time, hadn't gotten home to the 500 block of Stoneham Circle yet.
Medford police searched, then activated an automated alert system offered by a Florida nonprofit organization called A Child is Missing. The system calls phone numbers listed in the area where a missing child was last seen with a recorded description.
While the automated calls didn't lead to any tips, an officer found the girl at about 8:20 p.m. near the intersection of East Barnett Road and Alder Creek Drive. Investigators confirmed that she had gotten lost, then kept walking in hopes of seeing something she recognized. She was unharmed, police said.
Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said the automated system doesn't notify neighbors when a missing child is found, so police wanted to let people who got the calls know the girl was safe.