Elizabeth City mother thanks Chesapeake officers who helped find her son

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CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A mother from Elizabeth City made a plea to officers in the search for her son.

Priscilla Burrus-Penny told 10 On Your Side her son suffers from a mental illness. He vanished Sept. 5.

Burrus-Penny says when she got home from work on her usual route along U.S. 17, her son was missing. She filed a report with Elizabeth City police Sept. 7.

“I kept saying Lord people don’t let someone take advantage of him. Make him go to the bank and withdraw his money of something. I kept praying for that guardian angel,” said Burrus-Penny. “I didn’t sleep for a whole week thinking where could he be.”

Little did she know, guardian angels were all around. 

Some people gave tips to Elizabeth City police on Facebook — others called 911 when they spotted him walking in Virginia with plans to go to New York.

Chesapeake Sgt. Kim Dabbs, as well as officers Nick Ryan and Brian Justice, found her son walking along U.S. 17 just a few hours after he disappeared.

“We just said hey we’re here to help you,” explained Dabbs. “Initially, he didn’t respond well to us. He didn’t want to speak to the officers on scene. He expressed that he didn’t trust us. We just continued to show good faith. Just saying hey we’re really here to help. We offered him food and water. We offered him a ride to where ever he was going.”

Dabbs and Ryan are part of the Crisis Intervention Team, and are specially trained to help people with mental health conditions.

“I believed he was a danger to himself. Even though he wasn’t making statements to harm himself or anyone else. I knew he was putting himself in danger. We couldn’t allow him to walk on the dark road at 2-3 in the morning,” said Dabbs.

The officers walked with her son for 30 minutes.

Dabbs called to take him into emergency custody. He was taken to the Chesapeake Integrated Behavioral Center before being transferred to the Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center.

He stayed at the center for one week before the staff called Burrus-Penny. 

Burrus-Penny called 10 On Your Side to help track down the officers she says saved her son’s life. 

“You always see on TV you’re chasing someone or you’ve got them in handcuffs. Never the good stuff of really saving someones life. You saved my son’s life. You saved me,” said Burrus-Penny.

She says a simple “thank you” is just not enough. 

“My prayers were for Godly, good people and people that would do the same thing that they would want done to a family member or to themselves. And that’s how I feel. I want to say thank you very much.”

Since the meeting, her son took off again over the weekend. Dabbs called her when he was spotted in Chesapeake. He is receiving medical treatment in Virginia. 

Burrus-Penny says she plans to introduce the officers to her son in the near future. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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