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Monday, March 6, 2006

UNCP’s Jeff Bolles rescued small child near Myrtle Beach

Dena Bolles had a funny feeling before leaving for a recent weekend trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C. “I told my husband Jeff to be careful and not to speed,” she said.

Jeff and Dena Bolles

Dena and Jeff Bolles, who both work at UNC Pembroke, traveled to Myrtle Beach Friday evening, February 17, to compete in a Saturday marathon. Dena proved prophetic when, just after dark, on S.C. 9, Jeff spotted a vehicle dropping off a very small child alongside the two-lane highway.

“You hear about stuff like that, but you never expect to see it,” Jeff said. “I saw the SUV pull back on the highway and a small child running.”

With a child’s life in the balance, they had stumbled onto a serious crime that had gotten out of control.

“Jeff got off the highway, screaming ‘Oh my God! Did you see that!’” Dena said.

The highway was very busy when the Bolles pulled off the road with another car right behind.

“The driver of the other car rolled down her window and asked if I’d seen a child running,” Jeff said. “So, I realized I wasn’t imagining it.”

Meanwhile the child had disappeared from view, so Jeff started running.

“He ran down the road, and, fortunately, the boy ran right to him,” Dena said.

What did Jeff say to the running child?

“I didn’t say anything at all,” he said. “I just held out my arms, and he ran right to me. He didn’t even hesitate.”

“The boy had to be confused and in shock,” Jeff said. “He could have easily run into the road.”

Dena said the child was very scared, but it was heartwarming to see his react so well to emergency and law enforcement personnel.

The Myrtle Beach Sun-News, The Robesonian, The Fayetteville Observer and at least one television station reported the story, which the Bolles read later.

Myrtle Beach police reported that a three-year-old boy was abducted Friday evening after his father put the child into his vehicle with the engine running. He went back into the Budget Inn on North Ocean Boulevard to get another child.

He saw a man jump into the Ford Explorer, police said. Myrtle Beach police immediately notified other area law-enforcement agencies about the incident.

Around 7:50 p.m., Horry County Sheriff’s Department got a call from Jeff and Dena Bolles at the Market Express at 490 East S.C. 9. The police reported to the media that a “passer-by” saw the vehicle stop on the side of the roadway and drop the child off.

Jeff called 911 and reported the child. Emergency personnel called him back almost immediately to match the description of the abducted child. Unhurt, the child and his father were back together again soon afterward.

The stolen vehicle was abandoned Saturday in Fayetteville, N.C., and a Fayetteville man was charged with grand larceny and kidnapping. The Bolles are still reflecting on their adventure.

“It was an incredible weekend,” Dena said. “Jeff couldn’t sleep.”

Heroes? The Bolles are unsure if they qualify.

“We couldn’t image not stopping,” Dena said.

“I don’t look at this as being heroes,” Jeff said. “I’d like to think that anybody would have stopped.”

As for the marathon, Jeff, who is UNCP’s strength and conditioning coach, and his team won the relay in the open division. Members of that team included Bolles, UNCP alums Mike Jimenez, Paul Powers and Joe Cornwell and UNCP student Jeriah Griswold.

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