Local News

4-Year-Old Walks Away from Day Care

Posted April 27, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— A day care in Harnett County is coming under fire after a child wandered away. She did not get very far, but state investigators want to know why she even got out the side door.

The parents of the little girl are very upset. Even though she was only gone for a few seconds, they believe she either could have gotten hit by a car or abducted by a stranger.

Chelsea Lancaster's parents are checking out new day care centers for their 4-year-old. They are pulling her out of theCarousel of Learningbecause Chelsea ran out of side door by herself Tuesday afternoon and ended up just a few feet from busy Highway 301.

"Maybe it was just an accident and maybe it was just from lack of supervision," says Chelsea's mother Renee Lancaster. "I can't say that, I mean I really don't know and I can't say that."

The day care's director admits the child ran out on her own, but she says a teacher saw her leave. She said the teacher tried to catch her, but did not go after her aggressively because she was afraid Chelsea would dart out into traffic.

"They can't tell me they couldn't have caught her," Lancaster said. "I just want it to be investigated. If it happened to her, it can happen to anybody."

The episode ended just a few minutes after Chelsea got out when a man working at an auto auction shop about a block down the road picked up the girl and returned her to her supervisor.

Lancaster says she will not take her daughter and son back to the day care.

"Now I have to go through all the trouble of taking off a couple days of work and finding someone else, that's a loss of my income," Lancaster said. "And like I said before, going through the ritual of getting them used to something else. It's annoying and it's aggravating."

The day care center would not say if the side door was locked. However, the Lancasters say the doors are equipped with loud electronic door bells, so the staff would have known immediately that the door was open.