The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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September 6, 2013

Upset student flees Daniels Elementary looking for ‘mommy’

‘Hero’ returns child; administrators examine ways to improve security

DANIELS — Daniels Elementary School administrators are looking into “beefing up” security at the school and are urging other local school officials to do the same following a “scary” incident that turned one parent into an accidental hero.

Daniels Elementary dad Chris Treadway was doing what many parents do Wednesday morning. His son had forgotten his backpack, and Treadway was driving it to the school.

It was around 8:30 a.m., right after school had started, he recalled.

He had just turned from 4-H Lake Road — a two-lane roadway — onto the driveway leading into the school when he saw a tiny figure running from the direction of the school towards the main road.

“She was crying. She was upset,” he recalled. “This little, tiny child had some legs on her.

“Carl Lewis would’ve been proud of this kid,” added Treadway. “This has got to the fastest little kid I’ve ever seen, and I coach junior varsity football.”

Treadway put his car in “park” and told his friend to watch it.

“By that time, she’d sprinted a good 50 yards from me,” he remarked. “I’m not slow, but I’m not as fast as I used to be.

“It was like the 80’s Olympics.”

Treadway said he managed to catch up with the child right before she made it onto 4-H Lake Road.

She told him she was looking for her “mommy,” he said.

Treadway said he didn’t want to frighten the miniature sprinter, who seemed distrustful of him at first.

“You could tell the parents had talked to her about the whole stranger thing,” he said. “I tried to present myself as best I could. I got her to hold my finger and come back towards the school.”

As he led the tiny escapee towards the school, four women were “sprinting” towards them from the school, he recalled.

“I made sure she was safe with them, and I went on about my business,” he said. “There was serious emotion from the teachers.”

Treadway said he just did what any parent would do and added that he didn’t “have a lot of faith” that his own son might not try the same antics, even though he enjoys his time at Daniels.

“It’s a good school, we have good teachers,” he said. “I’m just glad the little girl is OK.”

Daniels principal Alvin James said Thursday that school officials had notified the student’s parent of the incident and added that it’s the only time in the school’s history that he can recall a student leaving the school without authorization.

James said he and his staff are already looking at ways the school can tighten security and control who exits the doors during the school day.

He pointed out that in schools all over the county, office staff must be “buzzed” to open the doors for people entering the school, but anyone can walk out of the school doors during the day.

“We’ll touch base with our safety person to somehow connect our Access Safety ... so that if a door opens somewhere during an unauthorized time, a light automatically comes on,” he said. “I would think if my door opened and it’s not supposed to open, there should be a little buzz or sound that would alarm in the office.”

James was not at the school on the day the incident occurred, but he added that he is glad the situation ended with the student safely returned to the school.

“I have a little boy who goes to school here, too, and things happen for a reason,” he added. “What a great, teachable moment this is going to be for our school and our community.

“This could happen at any school,” he pointed out. “We’re definitely going to be pro-active.”

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