Local News

Two 3-Year-Olds Climb 5-Foot Fence, Escape From Raleigh Day-Care Center

Posted November 12, 2002 3:17 a.m. EST

— A Garner mother wants answers from a Wake County day-care center after her 3-year-old son and another boy scaled a fence and wandered busy Raleigh streets for about 30 minutes Wednesday.

Andrea O'Neill said her son, Gabriel, likes to climb. She said that is a typical activity of any energetic 3-year-old.

O'Neill said she never expected workers at the KinderCare on Poplarwood Court, off of Capital Boulevard, to allow her son to climb a 5-foot playground fence and walk away.

"It was the worst feeling in the world. He was missing for a total of 35 minutes," O'Neill said.

O'Neill said her son and another 3-year-old crossed a four-lane road and walked about a quarter of a mile before ending up near a fire station.

"It's full of woods over here. Anything could have happened to him. He could have been picked up by anybody -- two boys, two babies walking alone in the road," she said.

O'Neill said a Highwoods property maintenance worker found the boys.

"At first I wondered why there were two young children standing by themselves. I just thought they were with their parents at the fire department," said Jaime Keane, who found the boys.

"My question is what were the teachers doing?" said O'Neill.

A KinderCare spokesperson confirms that a police report was filed and that an internal investigation is being conducted.

"I'm just glad he was found," O'Neill said. She has been bringing her son to the KinderCare location since he was six months old, but now, she said, the trust is broken.

"You know, us parents, we have to work nowadays and you've got to leave your kid with somebody," O'Neill said.

O'Neill said KinderCare workers told her not to bring her son back to the facility, because they cannot handle him.

Karen Dunn, of the state's Child Development division, said the incident is being investigated as a child neglect case.

In 1996 child neglect case, the state fined the same KinderCare center $500 and placed it on three months probation.