BELLEVILLE, Ill. (KTVI) – An Illinois day care is under investigation after a toddler recently left the building alone.
A woman found the child crying outside on the afternoon of Dec. 1 just feet from a busy roadway in Belleville.
“Just to pull up and see a baby, I was just so shocked by it,” she said.
It took a while for the good Samaritan to learn the 21-month-old child had walked out of his nearby day care.
“He was just standing there, just crying, and I picked him up like, ‘What’s wrong? Where’d you come from?’” she said. “And he just laid his head on me and I walked up and down the sidewalk, you know. I looked at each building. I’m like, ‘Anybody missing a baby?’”
The woman’s mom called police while they checked every apartment in a nearby complex. No one knew the child. Then the woman remembered a house next door with a playground in the backyard.
“A day care right here. So, I walk over there. I’m walking, a lady is coming up, and I’m like, ‘Anybody missing a baby?’ So, I kept going,” she said.
She said the worker did not know the toddler was missing.
“No, she didn’t know. That’s why I was so mad,” the woman said.
The Belleville Police Department told KTVI its investigation has led to a misdemeanor charge against one staff member of endangering the health and welfare of a child. The Illinois Division of Children and Family Services is continuing a broader investigation into the day care.
The day care owner said the worker responsible was fired, adding, “I wasn’t horrified by it, but I know that the little boy was fine.”
The day care owner also said, “He wasn’t even out there five minutes.”
Though the child is OK, his parents were rattled.
“I’ve never felt so helpless in any situation,” said Brandi Bland, the child’s mother. “I’m all the way in Glen Carbon and my son is out just wandering in the street and found by a stranger. It could’ve been anybody.”
The toddler’s father, Demaggio Fluker, added, “It hurts just to know something like that is taking place and you’re not even aware of it.”
The parents, who said they are hoping for accountability, are grateful for the woman who found their son.
“Thank you for being kind; for being a good person. I don’t think I can thank her enough,” Bland said.