FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — A local judge is being hailed a hero after his quick thinking and intuition helped him save the life of a missing 2-year-old boy.
Shortly after 8 p.m. on July 15, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office received a critical missing child call from a mother on Campground Road in southwest Forsyth County. The child was reported as a 2-year-old male.
Upon arriving, deputies learned the child left the residence through an unlocked back door and had been gone for nearly half an hour.
The Sheriff’s Office issued a Swift911, or Reverse 911, call notifying all residents in the area. Deputies accompanied by the Forsyth County Fire Department immediately began searching the wooded area around the home for the child. Sheriff’s Office K9 units also were called in to aid in the search. In all, more than 50 sheriff’s deputies and Fire Department officers participated in the response.
Deputies conducted a search of the child’s residence and noted deplorable living conditions. Based on their findings, they contacted the Department of Family and Children Services out of concern for the children living there. Over 50 Sheriff’s deputies and Fire Department officers participated in the response.
As darkness approached, local resident Phillip Bettis who also serves as an associate magistrate
judge in Forsyth County, received the reverse 911 notification.
Bettis knew of an unoccupied home in the area, and traveled there “on a hunch” to help look for the child, according to a press release.
As Bettis arrived, he located the child floating on his back in a swimming pool, buoyed by his diaper.
Without hesitating, Bettis immediately dove into the pool to rescue the child.
A sheriff’s lieutenant heard the noises and arrived during the rescue and witnessed Bettis’s heroic actions.
Medical assistance was immediately rendered to the child by local EMS and the child was found to be in good condition.
Further investigation of the home and care of the two children, resulted in the removal of both children from the home. They were placed into the custody of the Department of Family and Children’s Services.
The mother of the children, Danielle Cherie Wright, was arrested and charged with cruelty to children second degree and reckless conduct by the Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit. She is currently being held in the Forsyth County Jail with a $11,735 bond.
The majority of the time when the sheriff’s office receives calls like this, the child or person is found before or shortly after they arrive, according to Cpl. Doug Rainwater.
“This particular call was very concerning, but with the quick response and due diligence of the Sheriff’s Office, the Fire Department, dispatch and the citizens in the community a near certain tragedy was avoided,” Rainwater said. “Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Judge Phillip Bettis for his quick thinking in saving this child’s life, by not only listening to the reverse 911 call but acting on it. Judge Bettis exemplifies a true hero in our community.”