HAVERHILL, MASS. (WHDH) - Haverhill Public School officials say they need to make some changes after a first-grader with autism spectrum disorder was able to wander more than a half-mile away from the playground last Monday.
School officials say the 6-year-old left the playground at Bradford Elementary School through a hole in the fence that was damaged by a fallen tree.
“The student was recognized as missing upon child count protocols at the end of recess. He was initially reported to have gone into the restroom — the restroom was checked, he was not located, and 911 was called,” Superintendent Margaret Marotta said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Haverhill police had already been alerted by a woman who noticed the unaccompanied child while driving in the neighborhood behind the school.
The child’s father, who wished to remain anonymous, is now pointing to the police report that states that the woman saw the child run across the street and into a water treatment plant that is located about a half-mile away from the playground.
Upon arrival to the plant, investigators were told by an employee that the child took off toward an open water treatment vat.
That worker told police he grabbed the child before he could get into the water-filled pit.
School officials said that once they noticed the child was missing, they searched the school and surrounding neighborhoods until they were alerted of his safety.
“We are very thankful to our watchful neighbor, the Haverhill police and the water treatment plant staff. We are relieved that the child is safe. We are reviewing the incident and revising protocols in our ongoing efforts to assure that all student(s) are safe at all times,” Marotta said in a statement.
Marotta said that it was about eight minutes between the neighbor’s 911 call and the school’s alert.
The Department of Children and Families is involved in the investigation.
(Copyright (c) 2022 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)