'Waving hands like a mad person': Woman stops traffic after boy found outside daycare

Author
Craig Kapitan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 22 Nov 2021, 7:22PM
College Rd in Northcote, where the child was found. (Photo / Google)
College Rd in Northcote, where the child was found. (Photo / Google)

'Waving hands like a mad person': Woman stops traffic after boy found outside daycare

Author
Craig Kapitan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 22 Nov 2021, 7:22PM

Police were called to a North Shore daycare on Monday after a good Samaritan couple said they found a young boy, who they estimated to be about 2 years old, walking in the middle of a nearby street as traffic approached. 

"I went into the middle of the road to scoop the boy up," said Kylie, who asked the Herald not to use her surname. 

She was out for a walk around 10am with husband Martin, their two dogs and their own young son, who was strapped to her in a hiking backpack, when they spotted the child in the middle of Northcote's College Rd, down the street from where Harbourside Kids Childcare Centre is located. 

"Thankfully, there was a truck that slowed down for me," she recalled, explaining that she ran into the street to protect the child from traffic. "I was waving my hands like a mad person." 

Police have confirmed they were called to the address and are in the process of "following up what has happened". 

Responding to queries from the Herald, Harbourside Kids Childcare Centre issued a statement acknowledging that a child had "unintentionally left" the daycare and was found by a member of the public. 

"Our understanding is the child was gone for three minutes and was noticed within that time frame," the statement said. "Immediately, action was enacted to find the child and notify the appropriate authorities. 

"As soon as the child was found, parents were notified and there has been subsequent contact with the Ministry of Education. A full investigation is now underway to determine how this occurred and what measures of improvement need to be enacted." 

Pending the outcome of an investigation, the child's parents do not currently wish for the matter to be escalated, the centre's statement said. 

The incident follows a case at another Auckland daycare earlier this month in which a truck driver is believed to have taken a 2-year-old boy back to the facility after the child was able to get outside. 

Kylie said she is thankful she had read the previous story, which she had earlier shared with her coffee group for fellow mothers, so she had an idea of how to respond to the unusual situation. 

"We were talking about how upset we'd be if this was our child," she said of her coffee group, adding that she was shocked to find herself in a similar situation just a week later. 

"Being a mother myself, I was actually trying not to cry - I couldn't believe it. The last thing you want to imagine is putting your child in daycare and having them walk the streets." 

Not wanting to be mistaken for kidnappers, she immediately called police while her husband walked down the road to see if there were any nearby daycare centres, she recalled. Martin heard children playing about 100 metres away from where they found the child and alerted the daycare that one of their children might be missing, she said. 

"They said they didn't realise they were missing a child," Kylie said. 

She said the two teachers who came outside were initially hesitant to tell her the name of the daycare, making her not sure whether she should hand the child over. 

"But the police communicator spoke to them and told me it was okay to let the child go," she said. 

Of the nation's more than 4600 licensed early learning services, there were 10 complaints filed in 2019 - the most recent reporting year - regarding "allegations of children accidentally leaving a service due to unsecure premises or a lapse in staff supervision", according to the Ministry of Education. Eight of the complaints were upheld. 

Isabel Evans, the Ministry of Education's leader for Auckland, confirmed the agency has been alerted to the Monday incident. 

"We were made aware of the incident today, and have asked the service provider for its incident report and investigation notes to inform the ministry's investigation," she said. 

Early childhood education services are required to notify the ministry when they notify other agencies - such as WorkSafe, police or Oranga Tamariki - about serious incidents.