Mom Of Autisic Boy Who Often Runs Away Worries No One Will Stop To Help Him After Carlee Russell Went Missing

We live in a cruel world where we cannot even stop to help someone without fearing for our own lives.

carlee russell Hoover Police Department, @gina.marie.rivera / Instagram

The harrowing story of 25-year-old Carlee Russell, who was seemingly abducted after trying to help a lost toddler on the side of the road before returning to her parent's home on foot, has taken the media by storm. 

While many people around the country rejoiced over the woman’s safe return, others pointed out how her story proves that it is no longer safe to attempt and help others who appear to be in trouble if you're alone. By doing so, you could land yourself in danger. 


Now, people are concerned about the future of humanity should their own family members need help one day and may never receive it due to horror tales like Russell’s. 

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Carlee Russell went missing for two days after trying to help a lost toddler on the side of the road. 

On Thursday, July 13, 2023, Carlethia “Carlee” Russell was driving along Interstate 459 South in Alabama when she noticed a toddler on the side of the road by himself, wearing nothing but a diaper. She immediately called 911 and alerted dispatchers of the situation and her location. 


After hanging up, Russell stopped her vehicle to get out and check on the toddler. While doing so, she phoned a family member. However, they suddenly lost contact with her, per Hoover Police Department. When officers arrived at the scene just minutes later, they located Russell’s vehicle, purse, phone and wig, but there was no sign of the woman or toddler. 

Dozens of local residents and police officers worked tirelessly to find Russell before she showed up at her parents’ doorstep at 10:44 p.m. on July 15, 2023 traveling back by foot. 

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It is unclear exactly what occurred in the 48 hours that Russell was missing, although police did obtain a statement from her after transporting her to a local hospital, where she was treated and released shortly afterward. 

As of right now, police are giving Russell and her family “a little time to get themselves back together,” Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis informed WBRC.

Due to the details of the situation, people believe that Russell may have been kidnapped and that the toddler was used as ‘bait’ by her kidnapper to lure her in. 

After Russell’s alleged kidnapping, many people are on edge and have vowed not to help any young children who appear to be in trouble when there is no one else around.


However, others are concerned about their family members and children who have tendencies to disappear from their homes, and would benefit from the help and kindness of strangers. 

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One mother is worried that no one will help her autistic son, who often runs away from home, after learning about Russell’s story. 

Gina Rivera (@gina.marie.rivera) described her son, who has autism spectrum disorder, as an “eloper” that often escapes from home without her knowledge. After the details of Russell’s situation came to light, she's worried that no one will stop to help her son should they see him due to their own fears of being baited by a kidnapper. 

“Not only do I have to worry about him eloping but if he does run... NOW I have to worry that no one will stop to help him,” she wrote in the text overlay of a TikTok video that has been viewed over 4,000 times. Rivera also extended her prayers and thoughts to Russell. 




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Other parents of special needs children resonated with Rivera’s concerns. “Yes, same. I have two elopers,” one TikTok user commented. “I think this whole situation brings so many emotions and worries. I have a grandson with ASD/elopes and I have a daughter and a granddaughter,” another user shared. 

Others claimed that despite recent concerns about kidnapping, they will always stop to help a child in need. 


“I’ll always stop to help a child, and god help the person who chooses to use a child as bait, as I’m not defenseless,” one user revealed. “I will ALWAYS help a child because there's a cool thing called open carry,” another user wrote. 

However, this may not be the safest option, especially since we can never know for sure that a child alone really is in immediate need of help, or if it is all an elaborate plot set up by a potential kidnapper.

While this mother fears for her autistic son’s safety, others are scared for their daughters who could end up in a similar situation as Russell’s. 

Neesa (@mama_neesa) is advising her teenage daughter to never stop if she sees a toddler or someone in distress, especially if she is alone. 

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“Telling my daughter to KEEP driving if she EVER sees a baby, toddler, child, elderly, disabled or woman in distress,” the mother wrote in the text overlay of her video which has been viewed over 12 million times. “NEVER stop your car, call 911, call me, and drive to the nearest police station because stopping to help can be the last thing you do.” 



Other parents agreed with the mother and shared that they will be teaching their own children the same lesson. 

“My parents had this talk with me as a kid, (car seats, strollers etc) I never thought it would be a real scenario. So scary,” one user commented. “It's sick that we even have to think about that. that we can't just help someone without worrying,” another user pointed out. 


In a perfect world, we would stop to help a defenseless child without hesitation. Unfortunately, we live in a world where twisted individuals take advantage of others’ kindness and use it to lure them into unspeakable horrors. 

Now more than ever, it is especially important to proceed in every situation with caution. In light of Carlee Russell, people, notably young women, are now being advised to contact the police immediately if they suspect that a child is alone or in distress, and are encouraged not to leave their vehicles under any circumstances until help arrives. It is also wise to stay on the line with dispatchers until the police get to the scene. 

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.