Youths run away to avoid chores; found unhurt

Posted May 05, 2009, at 9:47 p.m.

HOLDEN, Maine — Two youths from Holden who ran away from home Tuesday were found quickly, none the worse for wear, though cold and wet.

By the time they were found, however, Holden police, a state police trooper and her tracking dog, and personnel from the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department and the Maine Warden Service all had been dispatched to look for them.

“Our concern was for their safety,” Holden police Sgt. Eugene Fizell said Tuesday evening, noting that heavy rain fell during much of the day and that temperatures were dropping when their mom called authorities to report the two had run away from home.

Fizell said the trouble began early that morning, when an 11-year-old girl and her 13-year-old brother overslept and missed the school bus.

Because the family lives in a rural part of town, walking or bicycling to school wasn’t a good option, Fizell said.

Though their mother couldn’t leave work to drive them to school, she did what many parents would consider the next best thing: She assigned them chores and homework with orders that both be completed by the time she got home.

Partway into their unscheduled school holiday, however, the siblings decided their assignments were unfair and that they should run away, Fizell said.

“They left a note to that effect,” Fizell said, adding that the two rounded up some snacks, pillows and blankets and headed off into the woods behind their home, where they set up a tent. Neither had a raincoat on, Fizell said, and the spot they chose for their campsite was swampy.

“Experienced campers they were not,” Fizell said.

At one point, he said, the two left their soggy campsite and headed even deeper into the woods, farther away from home.

State police Trooper Jessica Arey and her tracking dog were hot on the runaways’ trail when Jim Ellis, who is a county sheriff’s deputy, Holden’s public safety director and fire chief for both Holden and Eddington, spotted the two near Route 9.

After the two were deemed safe, “they were given an appreciation of the efforts that went into finding them,” Fizell said. Fizell said he also informed the two that chores are part of everyday family life and that children didn’t necessarily have to be paid for doing them.

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