SPRAGUE, Wash. – This normally sleepy town – thrust into the national spotlight this week by sensational footage of a child abduction – on Thursday honored the local heroes of the incident.
Sprague High School students Isaac Yow and Andrew Crain chased the person who ran off with a 22-month-old from the town’s park on Sunday. The abductor dropped the child after Yow and Crain joined the toddler’s siblings in the chase.
Yow and Crain were honored during the school’s annual staff vs. student game at the Sprague High School.
Crain echoed Yow’s previous comments and said he didn’t consider himself a hero.
“Anybody in this town would have done the same thing,” he said in an interview before the ceremony.
The suspect in Sunday’s alleged abduction was booked into the Lincoln County Jail on suspicion of second-degree kidnapping. Lincoln County Prosecutor Jeff Barkdull said Wednesday it’s unlikely he’ll seek to charge the teen as an adult. The Spokesman-Review generally avoids identifying juvenile crime suspects.
The identity of the 15-year-old arrested for the attempted abduction is an open secret in Sprague, which has fewer than 500 residents. Crain said his anger at the abductor has lessened since he learned the identity of the teen.
“He’s had some issues in the past,” Crain said of the suspect. “He’s kind of challenged in some ways. He didn’t seem like the type to do that. I was quite surprised.”
Sprague Mayor Ed Stephens and former school board chairwoman Jill Sheffels lauded the efforts of Yow and Crain. Stephens presented them with certificates of appreciation and a representative of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office also spoke.
“Because of your brave actions, a child is back with his family,” said Deputy Jared McLagan.
Nicole Wright and her children, including Owen, the 22-month-old boy who was taken from the park, attended the event to support the two teens.
“The boys were the ones that helped us,” she said. “It was the least I could do.”
She was concerned to learn that the suspect may have been implicated in other incidents with children.
“If it’s happened before, I’m just wondering, why hasn’t it been fixed?” she said.
Wright said she is supportive of the decision not to charge the teen as an adult.
“I think he needs to get some help,” she said. “I’m sorry his family has to go through this, too.”
Meanwhile, new details emerged Thursday about a previous incident allegedly involving the 15-year-old suspect.
He was investigated last summer after a mother reported that he tried to lure her autistic son from the family’s yard, according to a police report.
Last June, Sprague resident Michelle Barrus reported that her 11-year-old autistic son was approached by the same teen in the family’s front yard and asked her son to come with him. He held out his hand and her son took it and followed him, the police report said.
Barrus reported that her son and the teen had met but never spent time together. She also said that her son understands “stranger danger” with adults, but not with other children. The teen also called her son by name, she said, which made her son think it was OK to go with him.
Barrus told a deputy that she confronted the teen and told her son to come back. After the teen let go of her son’s hand, she reported that he “walked by several times” and seemed to be watching her son, according to the police report. He also apologized several times. When the deputy interviewed the teen, he denied that the incident occurred but noted that he had experienced abuse and “asked why he would do the same mistake,” the police report said.
The abduction case was reviewed by a deputy prosecutor who determined that a charge of child luring was not warranted, said Barkdull, the Lincoln County prosecutor.
“What was contained in the report did not meet the elements of a crime,” he said.
That decision upset Barrus. She said in an interview Thursday that she’s aware of other incidents since her son was approached in which the same teen tried to entice other children away.
“How many more are there?” she said. “I’m not happy.”