Redlands boy found napping inside box

Chris Franz of the Mesa County Sheriff’s office greets a sleepy Ethin Willburn, 4, at his home on Mitchell Road after he was found. The boy had been missing, and neighbors and authorities were mounting a search when Deputy Everett Blank found the boy sleeping in a box.

The fears of a frantic Redlands mother were quelled Friday afternoon when a Mesa County Sheriff’s Department deputy found her missing 4-year-old in a cardboard box on the family’s porch.

Ethin Willburn apparently curled up and fell asleep on the porch of his home at 202 Mitchell St.

His mother, Rena, had been looking for him because it was time for his nap.

After searching and yelling for him for about 10 minutes, the boy’s mother called the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department.

Deputies searched the home and inside and underneath vehicles.

About 20 minutes had gone by, and deputies were nearly ready to expand their search, using a tracking dog, when deputy Everett Blank discovered the boy in the box and carried him outside to his thankful mother and his father, Carl.

Sgt. Chris Franz said he had seen the box on the porch earlier and gave it a little kick, but it didn’t rouse the tired boy.

“I was yelling loud enough that the neighbors could hear,” Rena said, smiling gratefully while wiping away tears. “I can’t believe he couldn’t hear me.” 

After Ethin was back in his parents’ arms, hugs were dispersed all around. Deputies handed Ethin and his three siblings stickers, pencils and Frisbees.

“I’m just so thankful that he is OK,” Rena said. “He was in a big ol’ box I was just about to throw away.”


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