He was the right person, at the precise moment when someone else needed him dearly.
That might be the highest line of praise anyone could receive. But for Gabriel Poyerd, it was one line of many last week.
Gabriel, the Scandia boy who helped find a 12-year-old girl who went missing in a wooded area last June, received citations from the city, the county and the sheriff’s office, in recognition for having played a key role in the search.
“We are all very proud of him,” Tania Poyerd, Gabriel’s mother, said.
The Poyerd family’s day last June started out like any other. They had been planning a trip into the cities. But those plans changed when they began hearing a Minnesota State Patrol helicopter circling and they received word via a CodeRed community alert that a girl had gone missing. There were people all over, riding bikes and ATVs, walking trails and searching wooded areas.
They felt compelled to help.
By the time Gabriel and Tania joined the search, the girl, Maiya, had been missing from her grandparent’s home nearby for a few hours.
Tania said her son isn’t afraid of anything, and he loves being outdoors and in the woods. Gabriel was eager to join the search and began walking the woods and trails near their home. But what Gabriel brought to the search may have been something no one else could have.
Perhaps it was a heightened attention to detail, or his familiarity with that particular wooded area.
Whatever it was, he found her.
“’I can see her! She’s down here!’” Tania recalled Gabriel shouting.
Maiya was in a swampy area, stuck up to her waist in the mud.
Gabriel went right down to be with her as Tania hailed first responders, who arrived shortly thereafter to help rescue her.
Tami and Matt, Maiya’s parents, said she is doing fine after the incident. She was scraped up a bit and had some bug bites, but is otherwise healthy and back to her normal routine.
The family’s relief, and their gratitude, is immeasurable.
“(Gabriel) was the right person at the right time,” Tami said. “He was exactly who we needed to find Maiya.”
The awards Gabriel received last week included Scandia’s Good Neighbor Award, a Citizen’s Life Saving Award from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, a Commissioner’s Service Award from Washington County and a military challenge coin from Scandia Deputy David Peters.
Gabriel was overwhelmed and happy with the awards.
“We are thrilled that he is getting noticed for being awesome,” Tami said.
Tami and Matt said they are also extremely grateful to the first responders, and all the members of Scandia community who got involved in the search.
“They came out of every single home in that neighborhood,” Tami said. “It was a tremendous effort. They were all equally important in that rescue.”
Tania Poyerd agreed. She said she is proud to have learned that their community is one that can, and did, mobilize so quickly, selflessly and completely to help one of its neighbors.
“We’d want the whole neighborhood out looking for one of our kids, too,” Tania Poyerd said.
“We are very glad it was a happy ending.”