Truckers create rolling roadblock in rescue of abducted 2-year-old boy

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer

Jim Lowe says he and his co-driver had just heard Alert issued for a 2-year-old boy, giving the description of the car and the license plate number, when they spotted the vehicle. It was in the lane next to their truck on Interstate 24 in Marion County, TN.

Lowe, a truck driver for Johnny Morris Farms of Hillsboro, TN, told “Land Line Now” on Thursday, Jan. 10, that once he and his co-driver matched up the tag numbers with the information they pulled up about the Amber Alert, they decided to take action.

“We just kind of eased up and got in front of him and then hollered at a couple more trucks ahead of us to ease over into the slow lane and slow down (because) this guy was an Amber Alert and he had a kid in the car,” Lowe said.

Kristin Kern, public information officer for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations, credits the truck drivers’ quick-thinking as saving 2-year-old Cael Whitehead, who had been taken by his father, Austin Whitehead, 23, following a domestic disturbance in Houston County, TN.

She said the Amber Alert was issued around 12:45 p.m. and was canceled after the boy was located around 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

“They definitely saved that child,” Kern told Land Line.

Kern said Whitehead was believed to be en route to Covington, GA, where he is from, and was just a few miles from the Georgia state line when the truck drivers spotted Whitehead’s 2003 Teal Pontiac Grand Am.

“The way they boxed the car in so he could not get by them, it’s really amazing,” she said. “They were just minutes away from the Georgia line, very close. That would have added some time to the process of rescuing the child.”

Lowe said that as they were creating the rolling road block a truck driver who was behind them on I-24 got on the CB and told them he had called 911. A Tennessee State Trooper was en route westbound about two miles behind them.

By the time the state trooper caught up with them, Lowe said the trucks had slowed Whitehead’s car down to only about 30 mph. He had originally been traveling about 75 to 80 mph.

“I guess he saw he couldn’t go nowhere so he just eased over to the side and gave up,” Lowe said.

Kern said Whitehead was arrested at the scene and taken to the Marion County, TN, jail.

“He had outstanding warrants on him out of Montgomery County, as well as two out of Houston County related to the abduction,” she said.

After the trooper stopped the car and the toddler was rescued, Lowe said he and the other drivers didn’t stop, but headed on down the road. However, after reading a news account about truck drivers who aided in the location of the missing boy, he posted that he and his co-driver were part of the rescue efforts.

“I am just glad he (Cael) got to go home and sleep in his bed last night, you know,” Lowe said. “I know he was probably a little bit scared there.”

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