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Missing autistic boy found in Hilmar
Strayed from family outing; found in water
Isaac Sprague, 7, was found Thursday night after going missing for several hours.

The Merced County Sheriff’s Department located a 7-year-old autistic boy who went missing in the Hilmar area for several hours Thursday.

Isaac Sprague was found around 7:15 p.m. by the sheriff department’s dive team. The young boy was conscious when found and was taken to an area hospital for evaluation, according to the sheriff’s department. His condition is stable.

Isaac was practicing archery in the area of Kelly Road, near the Merced/Stanislaus County line in Hilmar, when he went missing around 11 a.m. said sheriff spokesman Deputy Delray Shelton.

 A family member searched for Isaac for about an hour before calling the sheriff’s department.

“Thus far the investigation has yielded that Sprague walked away from his family member’s van,” Shelton said.

The area in which Isaac was last seen is remote and heavily wooded, with a body of water in the near vicinity, Shelton said. The sheriff’s department dive team found Isaac in the water, but he was not submerged. Shelton said the dive team was searching the water when they heard a “moan” and found the boy lying on his back in a small body of water.

Deputies were having a difficult time ferreting out the details of Isaac’s disappearance because he cannot communicate due to his autism, Shelton said.

The sheriff’s department called out the search and rescue team, air support and K9 teams to assist with the search.