Exclusive: 'He was gone an hour, and our stomachs just dropped' - Father of missing boy (5) describes every parent's worst nightmare
- “He was gone an hour, and our stomachs just dropped. Then two hours and then three, we really started to panic"
- "No matter how much you watch your kids or how vigilant you are, you can just turn around and they're gone"
- "It was gut-wrenching but we can't describe how happy we are to have him home safe"
The father of a young boy (5) who went missing yesterday, prompting a large garda search, has spoken of the "gut-wrenching" moment he realised his son was gone.
Aidan Roche, from Co Wexford, was in Dublin with his wife and young kids when the nightmare occurred at the People's Park in Dun Laoghaire yesterday afternoon.
His five-year-old son, Richard Roche, disappeared from the play area and was nowhere to be seen for three hours.
Yesterday evening, a massive garda search was launched to help find the missing boy.
Both the local gardai and members of the Coast Guards were called to help trace the five-year-old.
Aidan told Independent.ie that he was still so shaken up about the incident that it took him three attempts to answer our call.
“He was in the play area with his older brothers and he just disappeared.
“My brother-in-law and my wife were taking turns watching him, and then one moment he was gone. My mother-in-law turned around and said Richard is missing.
“At first I didn’t really believe it, we were helpless," Aidan told Independent.ie.
“He was gone an hour, and our stomachs just dropped. Then two hours and then three, we really started to panic."
A huge search was launched and after three hours, the young boy was found by local woman Emer Fitzgerald, hiding in his parent's car.
“He told us after that he couldn’t see anyone in the park so he left, and went out to the car park. At first he climbed and hid under my van, and then climbed into the window of my wife’s car, which was a few cars down.
“The park was surrounded by a large six-foot fence, so we couldn’t understand how he got out.
“I looked in the van, around my wife’s car, under the car, but I never thought about checking inside the car. I just presumed it was locked," Aidan added.
The relieved father thanked everyone who helped him find his son, including the gardai and the Coast Guards.
“The guards were incredible, and I’d like to thank Emer and Clare who were the ones who found Richard. We are so glad he was found safe.
"No matter how much you watch your kids or how vigilant you are, you can just turn around and they're gone. It was gut-wrenching but we can't describe how happy we are to have him home safe."
Local woman Emer Fitzgerald, who found little Richard hiding in his mum's car, told Independent.ie that her "motherly instincts" kicked in.
After hearing about the missing boy, Emer drove around the area and spotted a small head popping out of the back of a parked car.
“It was mother’s instinct. When you know, you know.
“He was petrified. He was bawling his eyes out crying. All he wanted was his mummy and daddy,” Emer told Independent.ie.
With the help of a passer-by she helped Richard out of the car and got the attention of the gardaí and Coast Guards.
The young boy was so warm that passer-by's had to give him some water.
“The rescue services and the public were brilliant. The relief was just amazing,” she added.
Richard was taken to the local Garda Station where he met up with the rest of his family.