The international aid community was thrown into further disarray Saturday, as thousands of volunteers and military personnel collectively shifted their efforts away from the tragic earthquake aftermath in Haiti to search for Samantha Tibbets, a six-year-old first-grader from Sherman Oaks, CA, who was reported missing earlier in the afternoon.
"I took her out of school early," said Samantha's mother, Ashley, a former featured extra on the soap opera Santa Barbara. "I thought we could have a girls' day: you know, facials, boutiquing trashing our exes behind their backs. Lord knows what they learn all day in that school anyway. My god, and if she brings home one more noodle collage or pudding finger painting I think I'll slit my throat."
According to Tibbets, the day took a dark turn an hour after she and Samantha arrived back at their Ferndale Drive residence located in the posh Sherman Oaks Hills.
"I was right in the middle of texting my psychic. That's when I realized it was almost time for Samantha's first horseback riding lesson. And that's when I realized that we needed to go back to Bloomingdale's to buy her a riding outfit. And that's when I realized: Where's Samantha?
Moments later, Tibbets placed a call to 911, alerting the dispatcher that Samantha was "probably missing."
The following is a transcript from the truncated exchange between Tibbets and the 911 dispatcher:
Dispatcher: So...yes or no?
Dispatcher: Ma'am, have you looked -
Tibbets: Of course, I looked! Do you think I'm stupid?
Dispatcher: Did you look as long as you would if you'd lost your keys?
(At which point the transmission was cut short.)
Waiting outside the main terminal of Port-au-prince International airport, Col. Gregory Kahn said that his battalion of 400 soldiers had just received orders from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to redeploy to the Tibbets' residence.
Said Kahn, "Honestly, it's been pretty rough here this past week, no doubt, with the blood and the destruction and all that - for lack of a better word - 'jazz.' But when I got the call from Secretary of State Clinton about little Samantha, well, let's just say I had to summon all my years of field training just to keep it together."
Choking back tears, he added, "I'm sorry, I don't usually lose it like this. But, I mean, we're talking about a little girl here - from Sherman Oaks!"
"By the time we reach California," he added, "I'll have my men ready to do whatever it takes. Unfortunately, no matter what we do, none of this is going to change the fact that Samantha's already missed her first riding lesson. Now if you'll excuse me, we've got a little girl to save."
Within minutes of Samantha's reported disappearance, the Port-au-Prince airport was flooded with military personnel, aid workers, doctors, and diplomats departing for Sherman Oaks.
Tibbets recounted the harrowing series of events that surrounded Samantha's disappearance for the swarming media. "When I saw that she wasn't in the kitchen or playing in her room, I just sprinted straight for the panic bubble and activated the laser tripwires. You just cannot take chances in this day and age."
When asked where she had last spotted her daughter, Tibbets responded that she couldn't exactly recall but that "she was babbling about unicorns or the color pink or gummy bears."
By 5 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, each of the major cable news networks had preempted their programming to reflect the Tibbets crisis.
Glenn Beck of Fox News predicted the president would "cut and run from the very real crisis facing this country of children who may or may not be missing. Sadly, our president's too preoccupied right now with building his socialist empire to be bothered with little girls who are currently molested at a rate of four million an hour."
Obama shot back at critics in a nationally televised speech from the Oval Office. "I realize there are armchair quarterbacks who think my administration is soft on perverts. But make no mistake: We are at war - the war on Molesters. I'm calling on Congress to pass a bill that would make it a felony for any grown man to own a tattered bathrobe, a Members Only jacket, or a snug turtleneck. And assuming this bill doesn't get watered down by the usual special interests, it will also prohibit these scourges from uttering things like, "So, do you and your puppy like Pixar movies?" or "It being such a glorious day, how would you girls like to take a spin in my rusted-out van with the windows painted black?"
At an impromptu press conference held outside Los Angeles's City Hall, Police Chief Charlie Beck was asked what differed between Samantha's case and any one of hundreds of others involving missing children in the greater Los Angeles area.
"First of all, said Beck, "Her name is Samantha. If that fact doesn't fill any one of you with a grave sense of urgency, then, well, I really don't know what to tell you."
At that moment, several reports trickled in of Samantha's discovery - reports that proved factual.
Said an emotional Tibbets, while departing in her SUV en route to nearby Studio City, "I just got a call from Susie Peterson's mother asking me if I could pick Sam up from her play date with Susie. I guess I must've dropped her off at the Peterson's on the way home from the mall." Weeping softly, Tibbets added, "And I just can't express how relieved I am that my daughter and I will be reunited soon, right after I hit up the postal annex and then Trader Joe's."
Follow Brock Cohen on Twitter: www.twitter.com/brockdc