July 18, 2024
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Community Responds in Massive Numbers To Bergenfield Missing Child Alert

On Sunday, March 20, numerous first response agencies jumped into action when parents called 911 about their missing child. Joey Horowitz, 4, had been playing at a neighbor’s home on Greenbriar Street in Bergenfield. When he did not return home and could not be found during an exhaustive search, the Bergenfield Police Department and Bergenfield Office of Emergency Management coordinated a two-hour emergency response that included Bergenfield Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Bergenfield Police Department, Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps and Police Department, Bergen County Sheriff’s Department, Maywood Police, Chaverim of Bergen County, Rockland County Chaverim and Bergen Hatzalah, among others. Approximately 200 people from the community were also seen in the neighborhood, by car and on foot, searching backyards, wooded areas and playgrounds in hopes of finding the boy.

Ryan Shell, director of the Bergenfield Office of Emergency Management, explained that the missing child alert was posted about two hours before the child was found sleeping in a neighbor’s home. He explained that Ring doorbells had been checked all along the street and the location where the child was found had already been checked several times. A Bergenfield robocall was made to the entire community, as was the report that the child had been found.

“The main story for me is mi k’amcha Yisrael (how amazing is the nation of Israel). So many people from the community showed up so quickly. They literally flooded the streets and the neighborhood looking for this boy,” said Shell. “The police officers, BVAC EMTs, TVAC EMTs and Chaverim were unbelievable in helping to coordinate the search,” he added.

“It was an amazing, immediate response,” said Bergenfield Councilwoman Ora Kornbluth. “Everyone worked together, dropped what they were doing and ran to help. The police really saw what kind of community we are,” she said.

“The first thing I said when I found out he was okay, was, thankfully, this was a happy ending,” said Bergenfield Chief of Police Mustafa Rabboh. “Everyone put down what they were doing and assisted in finding this child. From the neighbor next door, to the neighbor across the street, to the neighbor across the river. The way that the community came together and assisted this family, I know to expect nothing less,” Cheif Rabboh said.

Chief Rabboh said he has three boys himself and like any parent, was very concerned when he first heard the alert. “I told my wife why I had to leave, and she immediately started praying… Kids at this age are very adventurous and curious, and they want to explore. Of course it was traumatic for the parents, but it’s a happy ending and all is forgotten for now. The child is back in the arms of his mother and that’s really all that matters.”

Bergen Hatzalah Chief Steven Kirschner shared his perspective: “Bergen Hatzalah was very happy to work alongside other emergency response organizations to help bring Joey home,” he said.

Shell added that a number of community rabbonim came to assist in the search and to provide support to the parents, including Congregation Beth Abraham’s Rabbi Yaakov Neuburger and Rabbi Tanchum Cohen, Ohr HaTorah’s Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky, Rabbi Moshe Stavsky of Bais Medrash of Bergenfield and Heichal HaTorah’s Rabbi Aryeh Stechler.

Bergenfield Mayor Arvin Amatorio and Police Chief Rabboh visited the family to share good wishes when the search had concluded.

By Elizabeth Kratz

 

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