Mark Robertson

Mark Robertson

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Solar panel installer rescues a missing girl with autism

Jake Manna was installing solar panels at a home when he learned a neighborhood girl was missing and decided to begin searching.

“First reaction was to go start looking,” Manna said. “Some people went one way, some people went the other way, and I took my own path.”

Toni-Elizabeth Anderson checked her home security camera and found the girl had been walking in Anderson’s front yard about 20 minutes before. The little girl can be seen casually walking around before darting in the direction of a winding, wooded trail that leads to the water.

“She skipped up to the front, went up my steps. She was there for about a minute, and then she skipped through the cars that were in my driveway and then booked it,” Anderson said. “I assumed she went to the path, because what kid wouldn’t?”

Manna, a former lifeguard, was first to find the girl.

“I had to cross a river to get over to the lake, and I saw a diaper and T-shirt floating down the river,” Manna said. “So, I thought of the worst, and my heart dropped, and I ran straight to the lake.”

Manna said he found the girl in waist-deep water, hoisted her above his shoulders to avoid nearby brush and carried her to land.

“She just started to go deeper and deeper,” Manna said. “But luckily, I said her name in time, and I called her over and we were able to get her out.”

Anderson helped put a pink life vest and princess towel around the unclothed girl, comforting her inside a friend’s car. Anderson later brought out her son’s shorts and a Pull-up diaper while they waited for her mother.

Medics were on standby to evaluate the girl, who was not hurt. Her frantic, searching family took her home, thanking her rescuers as they left.

Girl in lake

Photo: Getty Images

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