SPRINGVILLE — Standing in a crowd of hundreds of people Saturday, Springville resident Kelley Gilson had tears in her eyes.
“I just know what it feels like,” Gilson said, “just that feeling of the unknown, the fear for the safety and well-being of your child.”
Her child was missing for just a few hours before being found safely. She said she can’t imagine what it would be like if her child was missing for a whole week.
“It would be heart-wrenching,” she said. "So that’s why I’m here, because if I was his parent and in this situation, I would hope my neighbors would help me.”
Gilson was one of hundreds of volunteers who helped looked for 12-year old Chad Stilson Saturday. The Springville boy was last seen more than a week ago on Jan. 22.
Chad was grounded after getting into some trouble at school. He got out of his house through his bedroom window about midnight and disappeared.
"This is just out of character for him," said Vicki McGarry, Stilson’s mother.
“We felt like we were all close, so we can’t imagine why he would want to be gone this long,” said Dennis Stilson, Chad’s father. “It just doesn’t seem like him. That’s why we are all so concerned.”
The two were helping volunteers look at maps and other diagrams of their Springville neighborhood.
Saturday's search was organized by the Garrett Bardsley Foundation, which was created by Kevin Bardsley. His son Garrett disappeared during a camping trip in the Uinta Mountains in 2004 and was never found.
Ever since, Kevin Bardsley says he’ll do whatever he can to help parents when their child is missing.
"We go door-to-door and make sure everybody knows that they know that they're looking for him, that they see his face and knows what he looks like," Bardsley explained. "We want them to look everywhere they can think of and around their own property.”
Volunteers going door-to-door asked residents if they had any sheds or garages where someone could hide. If so, the volunteers asked for permission to look inside them, hoping to find any signs of Chad.
"Either someone is holding him against his will or he's somewhere where somebody is giving him bad advice,” Dennis Stilson said. “Or he's hurt and can't get to us."
A few Springville residents have called police to report possible sightings of Chad near Utah Lake and in Hobble Creek Canyon. At this point, however, those sightings have not been confirmed. Springville police say they don’t think any foul play is involved.
Chad is described as 5 feet 2 inches tall with brown hair and blue eyes weighing roughly 100 pounds.
“It’s the worst thing I’ve ever gone through,” his father said. “He’s our only child. You always hear about things like this, and you think, 'Oh, that poor person.’ And then you go through it. It happens to you and then you really feel it.”
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