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Dog Lost After Fatal Car Crash Reunited with Family

A lost dog that ran away after a car crash killed his owner near Benton March 15th is home safe.
BENTON- A lost dog that ran away after a car crash killed his owner near Benton March 15th is home safe.

Rico, the pug/chihuahua mix, belonged to Candi Van Patter, a longtime Little Rock school teacher. 11 days after the car crash, Rico was found just 100 yards from the accident site in Saline County. An employee found Rico inside a workshop at Dick Mooney Crane in Benton. Jennifer Woodmansee says Rico made his way inside an open bay door. "He came out from behind the trash can and scared me."

She says she heard about the car crash that killed Candi Van Patter not far from the shop, but didn't realize Rico is the dog Candi's friends and family have been searching for for 11 days. Woodmansee says Rico seemed scared. "I sat down on the floor and just waited for him to come to me."

Once she got him to come inside the office, she gave him some leftover pizza, and called the number on his collar. That call is what Rico's family has been waiting and hoping for. Rico was reunited with Van Patter's boyfriend, Tom Quall. Quall says having Rico will help heal his heart after losing Candi in the crash, and is the first piece of good news since the accident.

Quall says the thought of Rico dying alone in the woods after running away from the crash site cast a dark shadow that is now lifted. "It was a bright spot and something we've all been waiting for awhile."

Quall says seeing Rico is the first time he has smiled since losing Candi. "At least we have him, and that's part of her."

It was an emotional reunion Jennifer Woodmansee says she's glad she could be a small part of. She says she's happy something good came out of something so terrible. "I would hope anybody else would do the same, and I'm glad I was able to give a little happiness back."

After a check-up from the vet, Rico has a few bumps and bruises, but is otherwise fine. He will live out his days with Quall, spoiled and loved. "Candi would have wanted us to find him. I think she helped us find him, and kept us from giving up hope."

Rico is now microchipped and Quall says he's going to get in a lot of playtime, and will be well loved.
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