JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A woman who found a 6-year-old girl who wandered away from school Thursday said she's wondering why no police officers came when she repeatedly called for help.
Susan Lewis picked up the little girl named Kylie less than a mile from her school, Enterprise Learning Academy, off Old Middleburg Road.
District officials said the girl got away from the buddy she was supposed to be with, told a volunteer she was headed to the front office and instead bolted out the door. Kylie's father said his daughter left because her "tummy hurt."
Lewis said she knew she had to stop when she saw Kylie walking alone along a busy road with no sidewalks.
"I'm a mom, I have children, I have a grandchild, so that's just what mom's do," she said. "There's no way I would leave a child unattended."
Kylie's parents said they're wondering why no one knew she was missing, and Lewis said police never showed up when she called 911 three times within an hour after finding Kylie.
"To this minute, I still have not received a call back from the police to ask me, 'Was everything OK. Did the little girl make it home safely? Do you still need me?' Nothing," Lewis said.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office confirmed the 911 calls were made and said it was looking into the response. Michael Edwards, JSO director of patrols and enforcement, said the first 911 call came in at about 10 a.m. and that a woman was with the girl walking on the road. The dispatcher set the call as "priority four" because the child was in custody of an adult and was not deemed to be in immediate danger or the situation to be an emergency.
Edwards said the second call came in about 10 minutes later from the woman saying the child was upset and that she was worried the child would try to get away. At that point, the dispatcher set the call at "priority three," Edwards said. He said an officer was dispatched to the scene, but the officer was coming from another location, and it took the officer 18 minutes to get there.
Edwards said the woman made a third call saying she was in front of a day care on Old Middleburg Road South. Edwards said that when the officer arrived, the woman had taken the child to her home and the officer didn't know that and could not find the caller. He said that officer then asked other officers to be on the lookout for the car or caller. Edwards said that's why the officer and the woman did not connect.
Meanwhile, the School District admits something went wrong and is changing procedures, making sure it's not just the homeroom teacher who checks attendance.
"The safety committee met this morning to make sure that the processes were in place, double checking, making sure that a list of all the students goes with them to the resource class," Duval County Public Schools spokeswoman Jill Johnson said. "Make sure that the P.E. teacher or the art teacher knows which students are there."
While that may be reassuring to parents, the thing worrying Lewis the most is JSO's response.
"I am so disappointed in the police department right now," she said. "That's the moral of this story. I'm so disappointed that somebody needed help and they never showed up."
Lewis said she knows JSO is having to cut back on its resources, having recently laid off dozens of officers, but she said the Sheriff's Office should consider how much more it might have cost to search for Kylie had she been abducted.
Meanwhile, Kylie's father, Jason Sissung, said he's thankful Lewis stood by his daughter and feels lucky Kylie made it home safely.
"I want to say thanks. She saved our family," Sissung said of Lewis.