Constable Gene DeForest was on routine patrol on February 4, 2011 when the night changed.
Shortly after midnight he heard the Montgomery County Sheriff Dispatcher advise units there was a 3-year-old lost child off Bert Brown Road. She advised the reportee stated when she got home the front door was open and the boy was gone.He had been staying with his uncle and slipped out of the house. Constable DeForest responded to the scene.
Just as he got in the area another call was dispatched advising a child had been found and was at an address on Chandler Lane.
He proceeded to Chandler and arrived and identified the child as the one that was missing. A Sheriff Unit who was also dispatched had requested EMS to check by to make sure the child was ok.
As the ambulance arrived the child was immediately placed in hot packs as he was in stocking feet and quite cold since it was twenty-three degrees outside. The people who had found the child had already wrapped him in a blanket but more was needed.
The child was then returned home.
Robby Hovis, who first heard the child described the discovery. He was sitting in the living room watching television as she couldn’t sleep. She heard a child cry and got up to check on her child but he was asleep. Again she heard it and once again checked on her child. Again her child was fast asleep.
As she watched television she heard it again and this time walked out onto the back porch. She then called her husband Mahdi Tabri Jr. who also heard the cries. They thought it was an animal but he woke his father Mahdi Tabri Sr. anyhow.
The two of them walked to the fence i the back of their property and still heard it. There the younger Tabri crawled over the fence and started searching through the thick vines. Within minutes he found the small child tangled in vines. He freed the child and handed it to his father at the fence.
The toddler was identified as Johnny Riley. He was wearing shorts, stockings but no shoes, a shirt and hooded sweatshirt.
Little Johnny had walked about 400 yards from his home. His mother told DeForest that he was an explorer.
“He (Johnny) had an angel looking over him who called out to Robby Hovis and the Tabris, who saved the child’s life,” DeForest said. “ God works in many ways to help us along life’s paths. Sometimes, we don’t listen.
Wednesday morning Deforest and his office honored Hovis and Tabri’s for rescuing little Johnny.
As he read the inscription on the plaque he presented them he was visibly shaken and emotional. He later said he was thinking about his little grandson.