LISBON -Samuel Hudgins was only missing for 40 minutes, but it seemed like 40 hours for his mother, Virginia Hudgins, and stepmother Amber McCombs.
"It was by far the worse feeling I've ever had," McCombs said after 8-year-old Samuel was found about a half hour before dusk on Sunday sitting in their neighbor's car on rural Trinity Church Road in Center Township.
The Columbiana County Sheriff's Office began searching for Samuel after being called by McCombs about 5:45 p.m. to report he was missing. Before calling, she and Hudgins searched the property around their house along rural Trinity Church Road for about five minutes before panic set in.
"He was jumping on the trampoline one minute and then we looked out and he was gone," she said of Samuel, who is autistic.
Also mobilized to assist in the search were firefighters from the Lisbon and Hanover fire departments. At one point, authorities contacted STAT MedEvac, a local helicopter ambulance service, to perform an aerial search, but the request was canceled after Samuel was found in a car on the property of neighbors Boyd and Michelle Wilkins.
"They were wonderful. All of them are wonderful," McCombs said of the sheriff's deputies and firefighters. "We're lucky to have services like that."
McCombs said they were obviously relieved that Samuel was home, safe and sound.
"Sam is safe inside. He's going to take a shower and then we're going to put him to bed so we know where he is for the night," she said.