East Tennessee 2nd grader found wandering near busy highway

(Courtesy: WATE)

KINGSTON, Tenn. (WATE) – A Kingston mother is demanding answers from Roane County school leaders after her seven-year-old daughter was found wandering near a busy highway during school hours.

Brittany Hendrix said she received a call from her neighbor Friday afternoon that her daughter was home while she was supposed to be in school.

The second-grade student at Kingston Elementary School somehow slipped out of sight during recess Friday afternoon and left school property, according to Hendrix.

“She was found walking along the side of the highway here, a very busy highway by herself, when she should have been in school,” said Hendrix. “Very terrible things could have happened to her, but I’m thankful she’s okay and she’s alive.”

Hendrix said her daughter told her she was sick and wanted to leave school. She left the playground, making her way to Highway 70 where a young woman driving by stopped to check on her.

“The girl she got in the car with looked similar to a previous babysitter, so I think she thought it was her,” said Hendrix.

Taking directions from the little girl, the young woman took her home, but her mother was at work. A neighbor took the child in and called Hendrix.

“I got a call from the neighbor saying she was home. I hadn’t been contacted by the school and she had made it all the way home,” said Hendrix.

Hendrix said the school called within 20 minutes, but she is still shaken up wondering how this could have happened.

“I hope this is an eyeopener and they’ll look into the safety of our children,” said Hendrix who was fighting back tears during the interview.

Hendrix said she has been in contact with the school’s principal and believes he is doing all he can.

Meanwhile, Dr. Leah Watkins, Director of Roane County Schools, released a statement in response to the situation:

The safety of the students of Roane County is of the utmost concern. Our students are our top priority and we are constantly mindful of their safety. Roane County School System constantly evaluates, reviews and updates our safety procedures to ensure the maximum safety of our students.

Hendrix said she is just so thankful for the Good Samaritan who stopped to help her little girl.

“I just want to thank her very much, she literally saved my daughter’s life,” said Hendrix.