Before Amber Alerts and social media platforms bombarded viewers with images and videos of missing children, there was Soul Asylum’s haunting video of ‘Runaway Train’ playing repeatedly on MTV.
In the evocative video for the 1994 Grammy-winning hit, the band showcased powerful vignettes about the ways children go missing — an infant stolen from a stroller, a predator luring a child with candy — and featured the real-life faces of 36 missing children. As a result, 25 of the children were found.
“Because of that video, we know that kids came home as a direct result of that video playing on MTV,” says Becky Kovar, spokesperson for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
For the 25th anniversary of the song, NCMEC re-recorded and released a new version of the song with artists Jamie N Commons, Skylar Grey and Gallant. The video is featured at runawaytrain25.com and uses geolocation technology to let users view missing kids in their region.
Gallant, who has new music coming out in a few weeks, says he was impressed with the use of technology and hopes the new video reaches more people than before.
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“I’m looking forward to the results,” Gallant tells PEOPLE. “I think that was a huge part of the original , so obviously it’s one thing to spread awareness about the overall message, but I think if we can actually, on an exponential scale, bring some of these kids that are missing back to safety and solve some mysteries, that would be the No. 1 priority.”
Jamie N Collins agreed and added it was “humbling” to be a part of a project which helped bring so many children home.
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Still, 11 children remain missing from the group featured in the original video. Among them is Thomas “Tommy” Gibson, who was the youngest child featured in the video.
He was only 2 when he went missing from his secluded home in Azalea, Oregon, on March 18, 1991. He would now be 30 years old.
His mother Judith Andersen was frantic when her son disappeared after playing in front of her house.
“I knew Tommy liked to play hide-and-seek and I’m calling his name, calling his name and I’m getting nothing,” she recalls to PEOPLE. “I’m looking in places that don’t make sense; I’m freaking out.”
His father Larry Gibson, who was jogging at the time of Tommy’s disappearance, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in 1995 in a suspected accidental shooting of the boy – but Tommy’s body was never found and Larry maintains his innocence.
“Somebody knows what happened,” Larry tells PEOPLE. “Whatever happened, I’d like to know the truth.”
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