Authorities said a 5-year-old girl, attending summer camp, was left behind at a park.
“It’s a very unfortunate situation that happened yesterday,” Sgt. Gary Gross with Lakeland PD said.
The incident happened Monday afternoon at Common Ground Park. The young girl attended camp with Keeping It Real Ministries. The group was visiting the park yesterday.
“This could have been tragic obviously,” Sgt. Gross said.
Fortunately, a woman saw the little girl alone and she along with a few mothers searched for her group, then called police, and tracked down her mother using social media. The mother of the little girl did not want to go on camera, but she told ABC Action News, during the school year the family used their after school program without any issues. When the incident happened Monday during summer camp, the mother was not happy. She said, “I have a one strike policy when it comes to my kids.”
“The adult that found that child did the right thing and took action. That’s what you need to do when you see a child in need. Just don’t walk off and assume that the parents are somewhere else,” Sgt. Gross said.
Sgt. Gross said they are not pursing charges because they said it isn’t appropriate in this case.
“The child was not injured. She was fed while she was there. She was in good health. It appeared to be an accident so DCF was contacted,” Sgt. Gross said.
The mother of the 5-year-old girl said she was upset because it took more than 2 and a half hours to be reunited with her daughter. She said she found out from strangers her daughter was left behind at the park. Yesterday was her first day at camp. Her mother said her daughter started a new camp today and won’t be returning to the other one.
The president of Keeping it Real Ministries said the incident may have happened because the young girl was not wearing their camp uniform, since it was her first day at camp. In an emailed statement he called Monday’s incident unintentional and unexpected. He added they worked with DCF and “immediately placed proactive measures to ensure this never happens again. Although this is our first encounter of an issue like this (and will be our last), I can agree as a parent that even once is too much.”.
The president said they are going to meet to discuss possibly disciplining the camp counselor.