GEORGE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A George County mother is horrified that her 5-year-old walked out of school and no one seemed to notice she was gone. The good news is a nearby store owner found the child and kept her safe.
Trinity Harrell usually loves LC Hatcher Elementary School in Lucedale. But Tuesday, she said, she just didn't feel like being there. So she left.
"We were at the bathroom, and I wanted to go home, so I ran out the gate," Trinity said.
Trinity's mother wants to know where were her daughter's teachers?
"She was gone about an hour from school and no one contacted me, contacted the police," Melissa Harrell said.
The principal and district superintendent admit a gate was left opened, and the school didn't realize Trinity had even walked out before it was too late.
"Of course, we regret that it happened. We accept the fact that yesterday a mistake was made somewhere," Superintendent Barbara Massey said.
Once Trinity walked out of those school gates, she ended up on a busy road. The 5-year-old said she walked in the hot sun until she made it to a nearby store. An employee there said she found Trinity with no shoes on and grass in her hair.
"I told my boss and he then got on the phone and called the school because she was in uniform," said Latasha Williams.
Coincidentally, her mother happened to be next door shopping and overheard that a little girl was lost. She walked over to see if she could help identify the child.
"When I opened the door to the store, it was my child," Harrell said.
District officials said they apologize and they're digging deeper to find out what happened so the necessary changes can be made.
"We have extra duty people on hand in that location when that gate is unlocked," Principal Tanya Beech said.
"We want to beef up our security and our safety measures so every child can be safe," the superintendent said.
Meanwhile, the mother said she's filed a police report and plans to talk to an attorney about this incident.
"My child could have been run over, kidnapped, anything could have happened to her."
District officials said due to this investigation, they couldn't discuss how long the child was missing or if any teachers will be disciplined.