PORTSMOUTH, Va. — A panicked mother reached out to 13News Now after her son disappeared 24 hours earlier. What happened while we were interviewing the frantic mom was unexpected and incredible.
Chantel Moore said her son, 23-year-old Zachary Moore of Chesapeake, went to workout at the Planet Fitness on Victory Boulevard in Chesapeake around 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
The two are close and typically workout together, but Moore was tired from vacationing elsewhere for the holidays and decided to take a rest day.
About an hour after he checked in, she said, Zach was seen on the gym's surveillance cameras walking to his car, taking something out of the passenger side then walking back toward the gym.
But he never went inside. When he didn't come home a few hours later, Moore knew something was wrong.
"When I text him, he did not respond and that is not the norm for him," Moore said.
Calls went unanswered.
The location services function on his phone was turned off.
Moore describes her son as socially awkward and very introverted with almost no friends. Still, this was unusual and concerning behavior.
"I called the police. I made a missing persons report," Moore said.
All night Thursday into Friday, she and supporters searched the area. There was no sign of Zach.
She made flyers and littered the area with them.
"We went out to the neighborhoods nearby, all the businesses and asked around if anybody had seen him and contact us if they had and nothing. I even flagged down the mailman," she said.
Moore called 13News Now to help get the word out. Reporter Madeline Schmitt and photojournalist Connor Rhiel interviewed her around 3 p.m. Friday.
Right as the interview wrapped up, something shocking happened.
"The lady said that she found Zach!" one of her friends screamed across the Planet Fitness parking lot.
Moore went into a full-on sprint.
"He has on a blue backpack," Kelly Boykin said.
Boykin had just left the nearby thrift store when she saw one of the flyers with Zach's picture. Then she noticed 13News Now interviewing Moore.
Minutes later, Boykin said she spotted Zach at the intersection of Victory Boulevard and George Washington Highway not far away. She called police, then frantically raced back over to where Moore was.
Moore took off running toward the intersection calling out 'ZACH! Where are you?'
Officers got to Zach first, just down the highway. 13News Now watched the tearful reunion between mother and son. His father also came to the scene and they embraced.
"I'm ecstatic he's safe, I really am," Boykin said, with tears in her eyes.
Moore told us despite being close with her son, she had no idea anything was wrong. The 23-year-old alluded to some anxiety and stress during the reunion.
"I was just so thankful that he was there and that he's alive," Moore said.
No one is perfect, but they say a true test of character isn't how you handle the best days.
"I just want to get him help and see what's going on so we can resolve the real issue," Boykin said.
Moore said she wanted 13News Now to share this story so that others who may be struggling know that someone cares and help is out there.