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Child Wanders Away From Elementary School

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It's every parent's worst nightmare -- your child disappears from a place you thought they were safe, and no one can find them for hours. That's what happened to a Savannah family last month.

This family called it the worst experience of their lives. Their little girl wandered away from Largo-Tibet elementary school on a cold rainy day last month-- and wasn't found until more than two hours later.

But their daughter getting lost isn't the only thing that has this family upset.

Until about a month ago, Tammy Todd's five year old daughter Alayna attended kindergarten at Largo-Tibet elementary school. That all changed after February 25th, when her older son drove to the school to pick alayna up. Tammy says, "They called for her, she didn't come, so they kept calling for her and he called or texted me about, probably 20 minutes after he got there, and said they couldn't find her."

Tammy headed for the school and found her son sitting in the office. "And nobody was doing anything, so I said, did you tell them they you're up here? And he said yes, and they told me to sit right here and I said well, let's go look for her." The two started searching and ran into Alayna's teacher, apparently doing the same thing. Tammy says, "I saw her and i just started crying and I said, um, you know, they lost my baby. And she said, I will never let her go to the bathroom by herself again."

Tammy learned that during dismissal, her daughter had asked to use the bathroom and was allowed to go. The one nearest the gym unavailable, her daughter had to go back into the school. Staff began calling the buses and daycares to make sure Alayna wasn't with them. Her child had been missing about an hour when she was told police hadn't been called. She tried calling Metro herself, and says she was told they had to be called by the school resource officer. He walked in nearly fifteen minutes later. A group of her friends had gathered at the school, and some began searching the neighborhood. Tammy says, "It was raining that day, freezing cold, and everybody who was looking for her was knee deep in mud, looking in the ditches. My husband kept coming back and forth, just hysterical, you know. At that point, two hours had gone by and nobody knew where she was."

Finally a friend who works at a local radio station put information out over the air and on their facebook page. It was one of those listeners who spotted her daughter around an hour later, about eight blocks from the school. Reunited with her parents, the little girl shared her story. "When she came out of the bathroom, she got confused and didn't know which way to go, so she went to the front of the school cause she knew how to get there." Tammy says from there she followed some kids across the street, hoping to play, but was told they had to go home. So the five year old decided to try to find her house, meeting another child along the way. The older child stays home in the afternoon alone, and invited Alayna over to play. After being inside for a while, she'd gone outside, and that's when she was spotted... more than two hours after she left the school. "I just felt so helpless, because we as parents had done what we should do. We're driving around the neighborhood, we're looking through the ditches, but the police weren't even contacted," says Tammy.

The Todd's have since moved Alayna to a private school. News 3 called the Savannah-Chatham School District offices to ask about the policy when a child goes missing. We were told that in this instance - proper procedures did appear to have been followed - which include a search of the school, a call to the buses, then notifying parents and the school resource officer. We were told District's notes regarding the incident show Metro Police did assist in the search starting sometime after five p-m. So we asked whether that procedure - which took around an hour - is appropriate when the missing child is so young. In response to this incident – we were told protocols have been put in place at Largo-Tibet to have a closer monitor during dismissal time.

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