MANDEVILLE, La. -- A preschool is under investigation after a 3-year-old was able to escape the property and run into traffic.
The Department of Education, which manages daycare licensing across Louisiana, is leading the investigation in KidZone on Highway 59, but the St. Tammany Sheriff's Office has also taken a report on the incident.
August Clark, a Mandeville-area truck driver, said the situation he found himself in last Thursday is still hard to shake.
"When I went to make my right hand turn onto Solar Court, out of, just, out of the blue, a little kid was running towards me," he said, "He was in the middle of the road and I almost hit him."
Clark slammed on his brakes, then blocked traffic to protect the child, who he later learned was just 3-years-old. Clark was able to jump out of his truck and grab the child as the toddler was headed straight for rush-hour traffic on Highway 59 in Mandeville.
"I said I don't know where he come from, but what I'm gonna do, I hear the kids over there playing in the back over at KidsZone, and so I'm going to go over there and see if they're missing a kid," he said.
Clark said the daycare didn't know the child was missing, but didn't take long to figure out he had gotten out of the preschool's play yard through a hole in the back fence. The child's mother, who did not want to go on-camera, said she wasn't notified about the incident until the next day, and wasn't given the full details until she met with the State Department of Education investigator, who was called by Clark.
A representative with KidsZone declined an on-camera interview for this story, however, did offer a statement. She acknowledged that there was an incident last Thursday, that the state has been informed and that they are cooperating fully. When asked if any changes had been made to the fence since this incident, she said, 'Absolutely.'
Clark said he hopes the incident is a wake-up call to the daycare and a warning to parents about who they leave their children with.
The state was unable to say by news time whether the daycare had any prior complaints on file or had been investigated in the past.
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