PENDLETON — A shrill sound screamed overhead as 3-year-old Abdul Agboola and his sister unlocked their front door Friday afternoon. Standing on her tiptoes, Abdul’s sister reached up and disarmed the alarm.
Abdul wrapped his fingers over his ears and ran barefoot back down a hallway to a living room at the sound of the alarm. After it was silenced, he bounced back down the hallway with a shy smile and a red fire truck in his hands.
On Wednesday, hundreds of law enforcement personnel along with dozens of volunteers from neighboring communities searched for the boy, who had wandered away from his home alone in the pre-dawn hours.
“It was very scary,” Abdul’s father, Sheriff Agboola, said. “He has never been alone before. I don’t want to remember that happened.”
Almost four years ago Agboola, a medical doctor from Nigeria and his wife, a nurse, moved to the United States. The couple have three children, and Agboola — who is licensed in the U.S. as a nurse — works with his wife at the prison.
The family moved to the Springbrook subdivision about a month ago. Their family and friends live in the Maryland area.
“They are on their way now,” Agboola said of family members living in Maryland.
Agboola was reluctant to talk about his private life and family but wanted to express his gratitude.
“I don’t really want all this undue popularity this much,” Agboola said. “We are really thankful. The main reason I accepted this interview is because I hope I can use this opportunity to thank everyone that participated in rescuing him for us. It was really a sad moment.”
Agboola said he realized Abdul was missing when he got up in the middle of the night to use the restroom and decided to make a phone call. When he opened his son’s door, he realized he was missing.
Abdul was reported missing around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday — almost an hour after he was seen on a home surveillance video walking away from his family’s home in the 8600 block of Winton Place.
The boy had been missing for more than nine hours when Justin Harmeson, a volunteer firefighter with Chesterfield Union Township Fire Department and correctional officer with the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, located him at 11:44 a.m. in a ditch alongside Indiana 13.
As Agboola quietly spoke about the night his son went missing, Abdul made several trips up and down the stairs, moving toys back and forth from one location to another. He also made about five trips around the couch at a speed familiar to any 3-year-old — lightening fast.
“He is very, very active and so impulsive,” Agboola said watching his son.
The family has installed new audible alarms on doors and taken other precautions to keep Abdul from slipping away again in the middle of the night.
Agboola said his son suffered no ill effects despite the frigid temperatures and his extended exposure dressed only in a t-shirt and shorts. Agboola said when he got to the hospital with his son he collapsed from the ordeal.
His son, however, appeared unfazed.
“He didn’t say anything about it,” Agboola said. “He doesn’t want to talk about it.”
Agboola said he has not revisited the site along the roadside where his son was found, and he grimaced when recalling details.
“I was literally upstairs praying, praying, praying,” he said. “I run downstairs, out in the streets crying his name, and people I have never met would stop me and pray with me.”
Agboola paused for a moment recalling the generosity from his neighbors and people within the community.
“People I’ve never met in my life,” he said with surprise. “People I would not recognize now stopped me to pray with me. I can’t express enough how much we want to thank them. That is what we want people to know.
“We want to thank everyone. We want to show our appreciation in all ways we can.”
Agboola said they hope to find a local organization where they can volunteer their services to show their appreciation to the community.
“We want to help people back,” he said. “We both work at the prison, so we reach out to people that way, but we want to do more.”