Terrified mother Becky Johnson Bishop shook with fear when her 4-year-old son, Ben, disappeared Sunday at the Smyrna Air Show but expressed relief when he was quickly located by Rutherford County Sheriff’s Explorers.
She thanked the Explorers for their swift action to find Ben.
And she’s grateful for Metro Nashville Police K9 Officer John Gilpin for telling Ben earlier in the day that if he ever got lost, find a police officer.
After being located, “Ben tells me he found an officer and told him he could not find his mama,” Bishop said.
Ben was one of three children lost during the show Sunday. Rutherford County Sheriff’s deputies found the other three lost children.
Bishop of Oak Grove, Kentucky, came to the air show with her four children, Ben, Jessickah, 10, Gabriel, 8, and Emelyn, 6. She watched them as they moved closer to the fence to watch the show.
Jessickah came over to her mother to ask a question. As Bishop momentarily turned to Jessickah to answer her, she looked back at her children and Ben was gone.
“It was just literally a second,” Bishop said. “All I could think of was someone took my baby. I felt like a horrible parent.”
She started searching and ran to a tent to get help. An unidentified man approached Explorers Capt. Malia Xayachack, Cpl. Patrick Burns and Explorer Arielle Cooper to report the missing boy.
Xayachack and Cooper calmed the mother, got his picture and description and texted the information to other Explorers and Adviser Deputy Andy Pugh.
“Explorer Stephen Lindsey found the child walking through the crowd of spectators looking for his mother within three minutes,” Pugh said. “The mother and son were reunited within five minutes of the Explorers being notified.”
He handed Ben over to his mother, who wrapped him in her arms.
“He grabbed my neck and said, ‘Mama, I couldn’t find you. I was so scared,’” the mother said.
“He asked people if they knew where my mom is and they just said ‘no’ and kept walking.”
Bishop, who is a teacher, said she would help the child.
“If a kid walks up to you and says he is lost, you just don’t say ‘no’ and keep walking,” Bishop said.
Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Keith Lowery said if a child reaches out for help, adults should respond immediately and help the child.
Ben’s siblings were definitely happy to see him back.
“I can’t thank your officers enough for finding my little boy, Ben, today at the air show,” Bishop wrote in a Facebook message to the Sheriff’s Office. “I know I didn’t properly thank them when I was there because I was kind of holding on to my baby boy, who was just as scared as me because he could not find me.
“He asked me not to wash his shirt, though, because he has a junior officer sticker badge on his shirt,” Bishop wrote. “I am beyond grateful and I cannot put into words how thankful I am that they were there.”
Pictured: Mom Becky Bishop clings to her son, Ben, 4, after he was reunited with her after being lost at the Great Tennessee Air Show Sunday in Smyrna. With her are Sheriff’s Explorers who located Ben within minutes.