Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beach Rallies to Help Couple Find 6-Year-Old

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beach Rallies to Help Couple Find 6-Year-Old

Article excerpt

NEPTUNE BEACH -- Six-year-old Andy Klingerman hid his face behind his mother's shoulder Sunday afternoon as the police four-wheeler they were riding cruised passed hundreds of clapping and cheering beachgoers.

"You found him -- awright!" one of them shouted.

"These people are cheering for you," Lori Klingerman told her son.

The Jacksonville boy didn't know that, for nearly two hours, the shouting strangers had been helping his parents, friends and police comb the beach, the Atlantic Ocean and nearby neighborhoods for the child, who had wandered 2 miles away to the Jacksonville Beach pier.

With sunburned shoulders, the Neptune Beach Elementary first-grader told his mom he was sorry. He had been looking for his mom and dad, too.

A few hours earlier, the Klingermans arrived at a friend's Cherry Street home to spend the day playing at the beach before an evening cookout.

The adults planted their chairs about 50 feet from the calm ocean, and the kids tore off toward the water. After playing in a small tidal pool, Andy and a few other children rushed toward their parents holding a dead baby hammerhead shark. Andy wanted to take it home.

Lori and Gary Klingerman told him the shark couldn't go home with them, and the kids rushed to the ocean to release it for fish to eat. Within a few minutes, the kids were back splashing in the pool. But Gary Klingerman noticed one of the kids was missing -- Andy.

Gary Klingerman started walking north along the beach and his wife south. Their search was futile, and they called for beach authorities' help. Lori Klingerman jumped on a police four-wheeler and her husband stayed behind to wait.

"I couldn't think straight because I was terrified," Lori Klingerman said yesterday.

Word the boy was missing spread quickly up and down the beaches as officers announced it over megaphones: Please keep an eye out for a blond-haired boy wearing red Scooby Doo swimming shorts. His name is Andy, and he is missing. …

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