Jan 18, 2012 6:54 PM by Elizabeth Hill

Elementary student leaves campus, gets in car with stranger

The student, police won't say whether a boy or girl nor how old, left Prairie Elementary sometime after the start of the school day. The first bell is 7:55 a.m. and the child was located about an hour later in North Lafayette.

"An adult seeing the child walking offered the child a ride, the child entered the vehicle freely."

Police say the child walked all the way from the elementary school on West Congress, down Ambassador Caffery to Eraste Landry-a one and a half mile journey.

The child told the driver he was dismissed from school early and asked to be dropped off at the Academy store on Louisiana Avenue.

"According to the adult involved the weather looked like it was becoming inclement and he wanted to help the child."

However, someone saw the child get into the car and was suspicious.

"There was a witness in the area who observed the incident and followed the vehicle. The kid was eventually dropped off at the parking lot near Academy."

Police were called, and after talking to the child, the driver and witness, investigators found no sign of foul play. While this story may have a relatively happy ending, police say there's still an important lesson parents should pass on to their children.

"Never leave a school campus and never get in the car with a stranger."

As far as how the child was able to leave campus, Lafayette Parish School Board issued this statement.

"On Tuesday, a student left the campus of one of our elementary schools. His absence was noted almost immediately by LPSS staff. Lafayette Police are handling the investigation of what occurred after he left. LPSS is investigating how the child was able to leave campus without permission, in the hope that this experience can provide us with a chance to improve our security. It is our understanding that the child is safe and unharmed, for which we are grateful. Because of the ongoing nature of the investigations, LPSS will have no further comment on the matter at this time."


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