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Search on for 'Baby Ralston'

Published:Wednesday | January 12, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Neville Mitchell

Two-year-old missing after six days, suffering from sickle-cell disease

Anastasia Cunningham, Senior Gleaner Writer

Have you seen 'Baby Ralston'? He is a toddler who disappeared from his St Thomas community almost a week ago, and has not been seen since. His parents, other family members, neighbours and the security forces are anxiously searching every nook and cranny, hoping for a sign that the little boy is alive and well.

The two-year-old, Augustus Neville Mitchell, who is affectionately called Ralston, was just recently diagnosed with sickle cell disease. He was on medication at the time of his disappearance and is in urgent need of medical attention.

In fact, the toddler spent 12 days in the Princess Margaret Hospital, St Thomas, last month after his parents took him there when he became ill. It was at that point they discovered he had sickle-cell disease.

His parents, Neville Mitchell, 48, and 40-year-old Danna Emmanuel, got him back just in time for Christmas, only to lose him once again at the start of the new year.

Left with neighbour

On the morning of his disappearance, Danna reportedly left her baby in the care of a neighbour.

The neighbour said she got a call around 8 a.m. and, while on the phone, little Ralston started crying so she left him to talk to the person.

The neighbour said she heard her son, also two years old, saying, "Baby a guh wey, baby a guh wey." But she paid it no mind.

The mother of nine children said that half an hour later she went back to where the children were, only to find Baby Ralston missing. She said she searched for him, but to no avail. She then raised an alarm and several persons came out to look for the child.

Danna said her son always loved taking up phones and, on the morning in question, he took up her Claro phone which was in his pocket at the time he disappeared.

The parents said the Cedar Valley police tried calling the number but no one answered. On Friday, they said, a request was made to Claro to track the number and it was determined that the phone was somewhere in St Catherine.

Neville's cousin, Melissa Crossdale, who has been helping with the search, says she finds the whole incident very strange.

"Based on where the house is, it's impossible for a sick, frail two-year-old to crawl away from the house in such a short space of time that no one can find him," said Crossdale. "It would take him a really, really long time to get anywhere out of sight."

She added: "The only way for that baby to disappear so fast in half an hour is if an adult take him up and move with him. Believe me, this one is a puzzle. It's like him disappear off the face of the earth."

The Morant Bay police are now investigating the child's disappearance. On Monday, they called in Danna and her neighbour for questioning. It is reported that both their cellphones were confiscated and the women later sent home.

An Ananda Alert has been activated since Augustus disappeared. The report stated that he is of stout build, brown complexion and about 66 centimetres (two feet two inches) tall. He was dressed in a grey T-shirt and a blue plaid shorts.

Challenging search

The absence of a photograph of the toddler makes the search challenging, as the parents have none of him. However, the family is asking personnel at all hospitals across the island to be on the alert for anyone taking in a sick child who turns out to have sickle-cell disease.

From the moment Baby Ralston was reported missing at 8:30 a.m. last Thursday, Neville said he has been up at the break of day way into the next morning combing the bushy, hilly terrain, hoping to find his second "bwoy".

The coffee and vegetable farmer said so far they have searched more than 15 acres of the heavily vegetated mountain, and he has no intention of ending the search until Augustus is found.

"I am not giving up hope. I know my boy is alive somewhere," said the grieving father.

"I know it's been five days and five nights but I still have faith I will get him back. Believe me, I would do anything to get back my child."

anastasia.cunningham@gleanerjm.com

Anyone knowing the whereabouts of Augustus Neville Mitchell, also known as Ralston, is being asked to contact the Cedar Valley police at 703-0035, police 119 emergency number, or the nearest police station.