What to Know
- A Good Samaritan found a 5-year-old student after he somehow walked out his Manhattan school in Chelsea Thursday afternoon, police say
- The boy, who has special needs, was found inside the 23rd Street A-Train subway station two blocks away from PS 11
- The Department of Education told NBC 4 New York in a statement that the student was 'swiftly and safely found'
A young child with special needs wandered away from his Manhattan school Thursday, and ended up inside a nearby subway station, police say, as the mother alleges she was made aware of the incident only after her five-year-old son was found.
A Good Samaritan found the boy alone at the 23rd Street A-train station in Chelsea at around 12:30 p.m. and alerted police, according to the NYPD. Officers rushed to the station and learned he somehow walked out of his PS 11 school two blocks away.
After leaving the school, police say the boy walked east on 21st Street, then northbound on Eighth Avenue for two blocks before entering the station.
When the boy was found, he had a piece of paper with his mother’s phone number on it in his hand, police said. It wasn’t clear if the boy was wearing a coat.
Officers were able to keep the boy calm by playing a memory game with him, officials said. He was then given an NYPD patch.
According to the boy's mother, Mildred Deckard, she was contacted by police after her son was found. She alleges the school also contacted her after her son was found, not while he was missing.
The Department of Education told NBC 4 New York in a statement that the student was unharmed and was “swiftly and safely found.”
“This serious incident was immediately reported to NYPD,” a spokesperson for the NYC DOE said. “We have referred this for investigation and will ensure appropriate follow-up action.”
According to the school's website, the doors are on lockdown between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. each day so it’s unclear how the little boy was able to leave during school hours.
In a Friday afternoon press conference alongside the young boy's mother, Kirsten John Foy, executive director of Arc of Justice, called the incident disturbing.
"It is beyond disturbing that the failure of personnel, the failure of infrastructure and the failure of policy allowed for little Synciere to go all the way to the train station by himself, that if it were not for a good Samaritan God knows what may have happened," he said.
Foy added that they are demanding answers from the school, the district and the city's Board of Education.
"If this incident could have happened that means that there were other incidents that happened or could happen in the future," Foy said.
Rev. Kevin McCall, from the National Action Network, who was also present at the press conference said that "heads need to roll" because it makes no sense how in this day and age an incident of this kind could occur.
Foy added that Deckard is under legal guidance. It is unclear if she will definitely seek legal action against the school or district regarding the incident.
"I'm just grateful to God that nothing happened to my son," Deckard said, while holding her son. "Anything could have happened to him from the time he left the school until the time he went to that train station."
She added: "The most important thing to me is his safety. That's it."