Sean Rogers was sure he had heard something. He had walked around the block late Saturday evening after the repeated passes of a police helicopter signaled the search under way for 3-year-old Marcus Meja, who had disappeared during a family barbecue near Land Park’s Duck Lake.
Meja’s relatives feared Marcus had fallen into the pond after he went missing about 8:30 p.m.. As darkness fell, members of the Sacramento Fire Department’s search-and-rescue team slowly checked the water as more than 30 police officers went door-to-door late into the evening, alerting residents to the missing boy.
Rogers was walking along 13th Avenue when he thought he heard crying, but when he stopped, so did the crying. After several minutes of silence Rogers headed back to his 12th Avenue home.
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He was almost there when he decided to go back. He spotted two police officers nearby, directed them to where he thought he had heard the crying, and they shined their flashlights at bushes along some houses.
“There was a really loud kid’s scream and they looked and right in the corner of this hedge, they just pulled him out of the bushes,” said Rogers, a software engineer and father of two.
The boy was reunited with his family shortly after midnight, police said.
Before Meja was found, fire officials had suspended the Duck Lake search and had just started to empty the pond. The water level had barely fallen before officials ended the draining.
Officers already had sent out alerts about Marcus’ disappearance to phones within two miles. A Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department helicopter also aided in the search.
“It was a priority. There were a lot of circumstances that were very concerning to us,” said Sacramento Police Sgt. Bryce Heinlein, citing the boy’s age, the nearby pond and busy roads through the park.
The rattling of police helicopters is a common sound above Land Park and other parts of Sacramento. Usually, though, officers are on the hunt for criminal suspects.
“Of all the times we’ve heard a police helicopter, I was happy that, one, this involved a kid, and two, that he was found,” Rogers’ wife, Jennifer Henderson, said.