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LADYSMITH—In the wake of a missing 5-year-old boy, additional steps have been taken to prevent children from leaving the campus of Lewis and Clark Elementary School without permission, a Caroline County School Board member said.
A kindergartener was sent to the office for misbehavior on Wednesday afternoon. “He was in the office and he ran out,” said the school’s principal, Harold Pellegreen.
The boy wound up on a dirt road away from the campus, said Nancy Carson, vice chairperson of the School Board. “He was very quick—very agile,” Carson said.
The kindergartener was found unharmed along Durrett Road 24 minutes after he was reported missing Wednesday afternoon, Caroline County Sheriff Tony Lippa said.
This was the second time this had happened, but the previous incident was years ago, Carson said. “Additional measures have been put in place and this will not happen again. I am not at liberty to say what those steps are at this time.”
“We try to turn incidents like this into positives,” Pellegreen said. School officials continue to examine their policies and procedures, he indicated.
The emergency call went to the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office at 2:01 p.m. on Wednesday. Officers with the CCSO were en-route to the school at 2:04 p.m. and they arrived at the school at 2:07 p.m., Lippa said.
Rachael Roundy, a Ladysmith resident and volunteer with the Bowling Green Volunteer Fire Department, approached State Trooper Brandon Crockwell of the Virginia State Police and told the trooper she had seen a young boy by himself along Durrett Road, a dirt road, near Route 1 and was concerned about his safety, Sgt. Jason Spencer of the VSP reported. The trooper found the boy along the dirt road and took the boy into his care. The trooper turned the boy over to two CCSO officials, Sgt. James McCartey and Capt. Angel Lambert, who returned the boy to the school.
“When you see a 5-year-old walking down the street alone during the day, it’s a little strange,” Spencer noted.
The trooper was parked at the Ladysmith Volunteer Fire Department, checking traffic, when Roundy expressed her concern about the boy.
The incident is still under investigation, Lippa said. “With an ongoing investigation, typically the sheriff’s office shares the report with the Caroline Department of Social Services,” the sheriff said. “Upon the completion of the investigation, if it appears that a criminal violation is involved, that information will be brought to the office of commonwealth’s attorney.”
Altogether, two troopers and six CCSO officers were at the school within minutes and had already placed a call for search dogs to be brought in, Lippa said. “The boy’s parents are very upset about this,” Lippa noted.