For crews pursuing local boys thought dead, search invites trauma, mental illness

How do you prepare for finding a child’s body? You can’t, one expert says.

Psychologist: Mental healthcare critical as crews search for James, Nylo

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (FOX19) - As trained volunteers continue to search for two missing boys who are believed to be dead, experts believe being involved with two horrific tragedies centered around children can lead to emotional trauma.

North Star International and Ohio Landsar crews say they are committed to finding 6-year-old James Hutchinson and 3-year-old Nylo Lattimore.

Police believe the boys were killed in two separate criminal cases, but their remains have not been located.

Monday’s search took the trained search teams to Dearborn County, where they spent hours looking for any sign of James.

“It’s cold. It’s hard work. It’s tiring. It’s not just like walking down a bank. The banks is pretty treacherous,” Tracy Campbell with North Star International said.

The searches can have an emotional and mental impact too. Although many of the volunteers are retired police officers and firefighters, the current situation, involving two children, is one Campbell says they have not encountered in the past.

“I don’t know if you can ever prepare yourself for something so horrific as a child’s body, but we do the best we can,” Campbell said.

Dr. Ed Connor, a forensic psychologist, believes both the first responders and search crews involved in the two cases may ultimately need mental healthcare.

“Often times, they need to be seen in what we call ‘critical incident debriefing,’ where they are seen so that they can talk about what happened, so it doesn’t continue to haunt them as they go through their professional and personal life,” Dr. Connor said.

Whether it is a detective interviewing a suspect about something disturbing or a diver recovering remains, Connor says the end results could be damaging.

“This could trigger symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder where they start to have nightmares or flashbacks about what they saw,” he said.

As for parents, Connor says it is best to comfort children who may be struggling with what is happening without giving them a false sense of security.

For anyone in the public who is following James’s case or Nylo’s case, Connor stressed that while it is important to stay informed, it is also necessary to take time away from the tragedies.

“To obsess about this type of tragedy can only heighten your own degree of anxiety and worry to the point where it could make you sick,” he said.

Campbell says search volunteers often lean on each other for support, but will reach out for more help when appropriate.

North Star crews plan to return to the Lawrenceburg area on Sunday to search for James.

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