Autistic teen found after help from neighbors via Facebook

Posted at 4:33 PM, Jun 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-24 08:08:18-04

A mom in North Ridgeville is hugging her son a little tighter.

The severely autistic teen wandered away Thursday night and the community jumped into action to help bring him home.

Social media played a key role in the safe return of the young man.

Shortly after disappearing from his home, Ehren Jackson's picture and description was on the North Ridgeville Police Department's Facebook page. In just ten minutes it was shared more than 240 times.

As that post went viral, strangers started contacting Ehren's mom, Lisa, through Facebook messenger.

"Every single share gets the word out a little bit faster," Lisa Berner said.

Strangers started contacting Berner with locations where her son had been spotted.

"People had seen him in different areas, giving the exact time that they saw him," said Berner.

The worried mother then relayed that information to police.

"I was in direct contact with the Facebook post and the police," said Berner.

The 14-year-old was found two hours later walking along Route 83 in Avon, miles from home.

"Extremely dangerous. We've had a lot of issues with him taking off. It's not that we don't know he's leaving, its' we can't stop him," Berner said.

When they try, Ehren gets angry and lashes out.

"Violence, yelling, chaos," said Berner.

This disturbing behavior only recently surfaced. Ehren's family says they have tried to get him into a treatment facility through multiple agencies, but have failed.

"They say that they are at their office making phone calls, filing out applications, but we're not seeing any progress," said Berner.

Berner says the roadblocks and financial barriers have left her family in crisis with seemingly no one to turn to.

"Something is going to happen to Ehren or one of us, and by the time somebody decides we need help it's going to be too late," Berner said.

For now, Lisa and her husband, Tommy, are turning to the community that they say has repeatedly stepped up to support their family.

"We'll never leave North Ridgeville because of the community and because of our Police Department. They have been our support system through all of this," said Berner.

This isn't the first time Ehren has wandered away and social media users stepped in to help locate him. Back in October, a Facebook post led to his discovery about 20 miles away from home.