By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
A Daphne teen who left a Baldwin County diversion center March 16 without permission was found safe and sound in Georgia and is now back in the care of relatives.
Rebekah Bundrum, 15-year-old runaway, turned herself in and called her mother around 4 p.m. March 23 after reaching Cartersville, Ga., said her aunt, Deanna Simpson, who credited Atmore News with helping safely bring to an end the teen’s journey and her family’s worries.
The news of Bundrum’s fleeing, along with four photos furnished by Ms. Simpson, was posted shortly before midday March 23 and was shared across the state and region by many of Atmore News’ 11,500 Facebook followers. The youngster called relatives about four hours after the posting.
“I can’t thank you enough for your quick response,” Ms. Simpson said in a comment sent to Atmore News’ Facebook Messenger inbox. “It helped get it started.”
Rebekah was housed at Pathway of Baldwin County, located near the Lottie community, by order of a Baldwin County juvenile court judge. She and another 15-year-old girl left the diversion center together. Ms. Simpson said another girl was with Rebekah when she got to Cartersville, but she was not sure if it was the girl with whom she fled.
Pathway of Baldwin County provides therapeutic treatment for adjudicated youth ages 10-18. The diversion center’s goal is to “provide a safe environment to foster positive behavioral changes and prevent further juvenile court involvement by enhancing social skills, enriching family relationships, increasing personal accountability, reducing risky behavior and improving overall academic participation.”
The program is licensed by the Alabama Department of Youth Services.
The incident isn’t the first time Rebekah has taken off without permission. According to published reports, Daphne police searched less than a week before locating her after she and another teen ran away from home in September 2020.
Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks said Atmore authorities were not notified that the teens had absconded from the Lottie facility, although it is just a few miles from the city. The center is physically located just inside Baldwin County but has an Atmore mailing address.
The aunt, who lives in Georgia, said the details of her niece’s brief time as a fugitive from juvenile justice were not important.
“The main thing is, she’s safe,” she said. “That’s all that needs to be said.”