Kindergartner escapes school, found blocks away - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Kindergartner escapes school, found blocks away

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A 5-year-old student wanders away from his school during kindergarten recess and is found on a busy street in Bay Park.

“I said, 'How in the heck did this happen?' His teacher was in there they both said 'We don't know,'” said father, John Farnsworth. “I said, 'That's a really bad answer for a parent.'"

He is the father of 5-year-old Brannigan Farnsworth, who attended Bay Park Elementary School up until last Tuesday when they got a call from school officials, "We lost your son but we found him."

A neighbor saw the boy from his balcony facing Morena Boulevard at Ingulf Street and grabbed the boy from flying traffic. His son is small enough to still ride in a car seat and venture three blocks dodging traffic.

“This parent grabbed him three-and-half blocks away, he is 5-years-old, getting ready to run across Morena Boulevard, My God. My God,” said Farnsworth.

The man who kept his son safe until police responded wasn't available for an interview. His wife went to the school asking if the school had a missing child.

A spokesperson for the school district released a statement to CBS News 8:

“First, we are extremely upset that the child ran away from school, and offer the Farnsworth our sincerest apology. We take the safety and security of our students and staff very seriously, and this is not an incident we are taking lightly.

The student ran away during recess. As soon as it was noticed the student was missing, the school's entrance was closed and a search began immediately, involving approximately 15 teachers, staff and volunteers, at least one of whom got in her car and began driving around the neighborhood. As the search was launched, the student was seen by a nearby resident (a Bay Park parent) running down an alley. That parent ran after the student and was able to stop him and provide adult supervision. This parent notified his wife that he believed the child was a Bay Park student – she drove to the school and saw the school secretary who had been searching in the front of the school – she got into the parent's car immediately and they went back to where the parent had remained with the student to comfort him. SDPD had been notified and arrived to assist, although the child was already with the parent who had stopped him and was comforting him. SDPD drove the secretary and the student back to the school. The parents were contacted and advised of what had happened.”

While the father went to the shopping center where his son was found to thank local workers for keeping his son safe he found out his son was nearly in danger.

“I noticed this boy was lying down in the street and I was terrified too,” said the owner of New York Giant Pizza. "He was terrified and wouldn't say a word.”

The father says his son has a speech delay and has trouble communicating.

“We are mortified,” said Farnsworth.

It's unclear how long Brannigan was gone, a SDUSD spokesperson says it was 10 minutes but it's unclear when they started counting.

“What we were initially told he was gone for 30 to 35 minutes,” said Brannigan.

This father says he is not counting on the school and pulled his son out of the choice school.

“The bottom line is we got our baby back. This has been traumatic for everyone involved, the school, us. I'm just trying to warn parents if you take your child to a new school you need to find out their plan if a child goes missing,” said Farnsworth.

In the SDUSD statement it tells CBS News 8 as a result of the incident, the school made the following changes and were put in place that afternoon:

· Main gate/entrance to the campus – we no longer leave the gate open. It is now unlocked but is closed. (We cannot lock them legally.) We have attached signs on both sides of the gate that say, “Welcome to Bay Park. Please come in and sign-in in the office. The gate is unlocked but must remain closed.”

· The back side of two of our kindergarten classrooms open up to the enclosed kindergarten playground. It is our policy that these doors remain open so our transitional kindergartners and kindergartners may use the restroom and water fountain located inside the classrooms. At the time of the incident the doors on the opposite side of the classroom that open up to our lunch arbor and main playground were open. It is now our policy to keep those doors closed when students are on the kindergarten playground.

· We have now changed our procedures that specific adults are supervising specific students rather than the group of adults supervising the group of students. We feel that this will better focus student supervision of students with special needs.

San Diego police responded and filed a report.
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