BELLEVILLE, Ill. – A Belleville, Illinois, daycare is under investigation for letting a toddler leave the building alone. A woman found the toddler alone and crying. It took a while to learn the 21-month-old child had walked out of his nearby daycare.
“Just to pull up and see a baby, I was just so shocked by it,” she said.
It happened in the middle of the afternoon on Dec. 1. The good Samaritan found the toddler just feet from busy North Belt West in Belleville.
“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?’”
Her mom called police while they checked every apartment. No one knew the child. Then the good Samaritan remembered a house next door with a playground in the backyard.
“A daycare 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 as she continued.
“No, she didn’t know. That’s why I was so mad,” the woman said.
The Belleville Police Department tells FOX 2 its investigation has led to a misdemeanor charge against one staff member for endangering the health and welfare of a child. The Illinois Division of Children and Family Services is continuing a broader investigation into the daycare.
The daycare owner told us, “He wasn’t even out there five minutes.”
The daycare owner came out to speak with us as customers were arriving. She said she fired the worker responsible, adding, “I wasn’t horrified by it, but I know the little boy was fine.”
We later met the child. He is ok, but his parents are 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 are hoping for accountability but 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.