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Missing teen found by tow driver who previously talked man down from ledge

Brandon with tow driver Ryan O’Neill (courtesy Tiffany Pierce)

An Arlington high school student who had gone missing over the weekend was reunited with his family — after his stepmom says a tow truck driver spotted him.

Brandon, a Washington-Liberty High School student, was last seen Friday morning. His mom, who lives in Arlington, notified his dad and stepmother, Phil and Tiffany Pierce, of Stafford, the next day.

Tiffany tells ARLnow she and Phil began “walking and driving around Arlington, day in and out, looking for Brandon… and working with the police.”

Police posted missing notices on social media, where the post was shared several hundred times. Tiffany also took to Facebook Sunday to post about her missing stepson and urged people to be on the lookout for him.

The Facebook posts were seen by Ryan O’Neill, a tow truck driver with Advanced Towing, who made headlines last year after helping to talk a man down from the edge of a Route 1 overpass.

Tiffany received a call from O’Neill around 4 p.m. yesterday (Monday), in which he said he spotted Brandon in Ballston and caught up to him.

O’Neill struck up a conversation with Brandon until Tiffany and Phil arrived, about 10 minutes later.

“Once I got there and we were reunited with Brandon, I called Brandon’s mom and the police, they met us in the Wells Fargo parking lot and we now have Brandon home with us,” Tiffany said. “We are forever grateful for Ryan for helping us bring Brandon home safe.”

In a statement, ACPD confirmed that Brandon was found yesterday. Police were dispatched around 3:40 p.m. to the 1000 block of N. Stafford Street for a report of a found missing juvenile.

“Upon arrival, it was determined family members had observed the juvenile walking in the area,” spokeswoman Alli Shorb said. “Responding officers made contact with the juvenile, confirmed his wellbeing and he was released to the custody of a guardian.”

She said family members reported observing the missing juvenile and noted that ACPD does not have additional details about whether a tow truck operator was involved.

Advanced Towing owner John O’Neill, the adoptive father of Ryan, confirmed the event.

“Ryan is constantly helping out the public,” John said, adding that he “pays attention and is all over Arlington.”

He cited the Crystal City overpass incident and the discovery of the missing teen as examples of how Advanced Towing is “helping out the community.”

That’s in contrast with Advanced’s more common perception as a “predatory” tow company, which has led to an unsuccessful lawsuit and repeated attempts at passing towing-related consumer protections. Advanced was also recently in the news for a driver who towed a car with children inside and, just yesterday, for a citation issued to a tow driver for an alleged unsafe tow.

The Advanced driver who towed the car with children inside earlier this month was not cited. The woman who allegedly left the children to go into a mall is, however, facing charges.

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