Carbondale city worker helped to find Patrice Dotson - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Carbondale city worker helped to find Patrice Dotson

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Missing girl: Patrice Dotson Missing girl: Patrice Dotson

CARBONDALE (WSIL) -- A community effort helped find a missing Carbondale girl. 

Hundreds of volunteers came together this week to find seven-year-old Patrice Dotson, who disappeared from her yard Monday evening. Those include many Carbondale city employees who stepped up to search. 

City Manager Gary Williams says it started with the police department Monday night when she went missing, "The guys were here all night long. We had folks that were on two hours of sleep when they found the little girl."

The next day, city workers from multiple departments joined in to help find Patrice, who has developmental challenges.

"People were volunteering their time," Williams explains. "It really was really awesome to be a part of." 

One of those search volunteers is John Lenzini, who's been with the city for almost 19 years. 

The building and Neighborhood Services Supervisor offered his time and the time of those in his department to the police, "Sometimes a division might be the expert in a thing, but could use some extra bodies or as they say boots on the ground." 

He says he also wanted to help because he felt a special tie to Patrice, "I grew up a block and a half from Patrice's house, and so I felt a little bit of a connection." 

Lenzini, along with police and city employees, were searching a city-owned area near old Koppers Wood Treatment facility and decided to split up. 
That's when he found Patrice laying down. 

"She was in a small clearing that was surrounded by a lot of trees and overgrowth," Lenzini recalls. 

"I think I was probably more worked up or excited to see her than she was to see me," he says. "I told her 'There's a lot of people looking for you' and she responded 'Who's looking for me?' and I said 'Your family, everybody'." 

Lenzini adds the family is thankful for his help, but he doesn't want to be the one to take the credit. 

He says any one of the volunteers could have found Patrice, it just happened to be him, "It's really great and it's really great to see the community come together like that."

The city also wants to thank all the businesses who donated food and refreshments for the volunteers while they were searching for Patrice.

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