Guardian Angels Reunite Local Autistic Teen with His Family

 Guardian Angels Reunite  Local Autistic Teen with His Family

By Kami-Leigh Agard

Last Tuesday, June 4, Michael Wolf and his mother, Chloe Wolf, were on a leisurely bike ride on the boardwalk when, to his mom’s horror, the 14-year-old who is on the autistic spectrum with minimal speech abilities, suddenly sped off. According to his dad, Matthew Wolf, Michael just received a brand-new bike for his birthday. So, the towering 6-foot-tall teen was so giddy with excitement about his new bike, he raced away and within seconds was out of sight. However, as divine providence would have it, two local “guardian angels” were also riding on the boardwalk when they spotted Michael, and with quick thinking and determination, reunited the autistic teen with his family.

Rock Khalil, age 27, who just moved four months ago to the Arverne area from Jamaica, Queens, shared how he and his friend, Carnel Campbell, age 19, happened upon Michael on the boardwalk.

“When I saw him, the first thing that came to mind was he looks lost. I asked him if he was looking for his mom and dad, and he said yes. So, I asked him if he knew their phone number. He recited the number twice, but said it so fast, I asked him again, but then I could see he was getting aggravated. So, I asked him if he was with mom or dad. He said, ‘Mom.’ I asked him what color shirt she was wearing. He said, ‘Red.’ ‘What color pants is she wearing?’ He responded, ‘Red.’ So, then Carnel and I started looking for a lady in all red.

“We were looking for about 20 minutes, and didn’t see any lady in red. So, then I asked him for his address. He said it once, but again really fast, and I could tell he was uncomfortable giving us his address, which showed that though he was scared, he’s smart. So, I said, ‘Okay, you don’t have to tell us your address. Which way do you live?’ He pointed left and we started walking west on the boardwalk. Along the way, we’re asking people if they knew Michael or his parents. At this point, no one did,” Khalil said.

Still determined, Khalil shared that they went to the FDNY fire alarm call box near Stop and Shop on Beach 73rd Street and Rockaway Beach Blvd. After calling, the two young men were put on hold for over 10 minutes. Khalil then spotted a NYPD patrol car, and ran towards it for help, but missed them by seconds.

“After missing the police car, I’m like, ‘Oh, man! Now we’re back to square one.’ We went back to the FDNY fire alarm call box, and finally the operator said they were going to send somebody. No one came. Then I saw a school safety patrol car and flagged it down. While we’re giving them information, luckily someone who knows his dad stopped and asked if Michael was lost. We were a little hesitant at first because you never know, but after the guy was able to tell us Michael’s parents’ names and then immediately phoned his dad, what a relief it was when he arrived shortly after,” Khalil said.

According to the National Autistic Association, nearly half of children with autism have a tendency to wander/bolt from safe settings, and more than one third of children with autism, who wander/elope, are never or rarely able to communicate their name, address, or phone number.

However, thanks to Khalil and Campbell’s determination to reunite the autistic teen with his parents, this approximately two-hour nightmare concluded with a happy ending.

Matt Wolf said, “Michael loves riding bikes. My wife and I ride with him everywhere, but this is the first time he ever wandered off as he always rides at the same pace with us. He doesn’t have a cellphone because, oftentimes, he would drop it or just forget, so giving him a cellphone became unpractical.

“My fear was that we never lost sight of him while riding our bikes. His bike doesn’t have an AirTag, and on the boardwalk, he could zip to the end of Far Rockaway, and we would have no idea where he is.  On the boardwalk you have to cover more area and that thought alone was beyond frightening. I was so relieved when I received a text message that he was with these two gentlemen. I guess Michael couldn’t relay his phone number in a clear manner for Rock and Carnel to know who to call. I’m also so grateful to my friend, Quest, a fellow surfer, who saw Michael with these two wonderful guys and contacted me.”

Even sweeter is now the Wolf family, and Khalil and Campbell have evolved from perfect strangers to newfound friends.

Wolf said, “What most impressed me about Rock and Carnel was not only how they stuck with Michael but went out of their way throughout the whole ordeal to make sure that my son was safe and back in our care. Most people would have just walked by, much less look back to see if he was ok.”

Wolf then relayed that after reuniting with Michael, as a thank you, he offered to take the two good Samaritans out to dinner. At first they said no, but then Campbell walked back inquiring if Wolf knew anyone who was hiring because as a father of one, he was looking for work.

Wolf said, “I told him that I would ask around, and then insisted again that we have dinner to learn more about each other.” So, the newfound friends bonded over dinner at Rockaway Tiki Bar.

Khalil, a father of three, is a budding entrepreneur, who just recently opened Rockaway Junk Removal Business. His business’ phone number is (929) 571-8499.

Campbell is a father of one and actively looking for work. He shared that he’s striving for a better future for his son and being a positive role model in the community.

For Khalil, coming to Michael’s aid was just being human. He said, “We actually enjoyed our time with Michael. Everybody needs help sometimes, whether you’re young, old or autistic like Michael.”

When asked if he sensed Michael was autistic, he relayed, “It’s only when we saw the back of his t-shirt stated, ‘Rockaway Beach Autism Families Walk for Autism,’ it clicked, which was helpful because it helped us understand the situation and made us even more determined to find his parents. I’ve never had a personal interaction with someone autistic, but I’ve seen individuals in the community, and was aware about the different levels of the spectrum.

“Even though Michael couldn’t give us the exact information we needed, he still was able to explain what he was thinking and feeling. You just have to listen and understand. I’m just happy God placed us at the right place and the right time to get him home.”

For more info about autism and wandering, and tips on helping, visit:

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