Lost toddler wanders nearly a mile to house

The police scoured Rock Quarry Park for 40 minutes looking for 2-year-old boy.
Friday, September 26, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:49 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Minutes after hordes of police officers and firefighters scoured Rock Quarry Park in a lunchtime search for a lost 2-year-old boy, he was found safe nearly a mile away at his day care. He had walked there alone.

The search lasted for about 40 minutes in the park, near the intersection of Rock Quarry Road and Grindstone Parkway. The boy was found at 3805 Churchill Drive, a home where the boy attends day care.

Police said the boy walked from the park, about eight-tenths of a mile away, to the day care by himself but did not know the route he took. Day-care owner Karen McBride found the child at 12:09 p.m., White said.

The search began after a day-care employee, who had taken the boy and six other children to the park, noticed he was missing around 11 a.m.

A group of parents helped the employee look for the boy but called police after a half-hour of unsuccessful searching.

Police began arriving at the park at 11:35 a.m. Sgt. Eric White of the Columbia Police Department said the department had “everyone available” searching for the child.

The search party consisted of two commands from the Columbia Fire Department along with officers from the police department’s traffic, crime and community service units, detectives, a school resource officer and all available patrol officers, he said.

University Hospital volunteered helicopter, White said, but the boy was found before the helicopter arrived.

Police said the boy was in “apparent good health.” His parents were told about what happened.

The incident is still under investigation, White said. He said he doesn’t know what charges, if any, could be filed. The police intended to contact the Missouri Division of Family Services regarding the incident, White said.

McBride and her employees declined to comment on Thursday afternoon.

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