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PCSO applauds boy after he runs for help during 'stranger danger' situation at his bus stop

Posted at 3:42 PM, Nov 19, 2019

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — A Polk County community is on the lookout for a driver accused of following a boy home.

On Monday night, an 11-year-old got off his bus stop on Struthers Road in Winter Haven and was on his three block walk home when he says a vehicle began following him.

But it was what he did next which has gotten the attention of his parents, neighbors and even the sheriff.

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“There was a little bit of screaming like 'help, help,' like knocking on the door,” said Maryel Lugones, who was eating dinner with her family when the frantic knocks came.

On the other side of the door was a young boy, in desperate need of help.

“So I ran to the door and I opened the door and he was like 'please help me, please help me,'” Lugones said.

Lugones told ABC Action News she had seen the boy before and that he lives with his father and step-mother nearby. She said as a mother herself the situation scared her.

“I was like 'listen you are okay, you are safe, come here' and I literally hugged the boy,” Lugones said.

The boy told her a newer white Toyota Camry began following him, got close to him on the side walk and even rolled down the window to try to get his attention.

Lugones’ fiancé ran outside and saw the man circle back.

“The guy literally passed by, made a u-turn in our neighbor’s driveway and sped right back,” Lugones said.

The boy’s mother called the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies were not able to find the driver but promised the neighborhood they would be on the lookout for the rest of the week.

In a statement, PCSO applauded the young boy on doing the right thing during an emergency situation.

“This is a great teaching moment for parents - this young man was scared and did not want to talk to a stranger, so he ran to get help. He did a great job.”

The boy’s mother, Courtney Steen, could not agree more, telling ABC Action News that she is extremely proud of his actions.

“He ran immediately to the neighbors house and chose them because they were the closest ones that had kids.”

Steen said she has taught her children to not talk to strangers, get away and find a mother with children in situations like this.

But, her son didn’t stop there. Steen said while the situation was happening her 11-year-old got on the phone and began texting her what was going on.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says despite the circumstances a crime was not committed and that this gentlemen could have been asking for directions.

Still, deputies will be patrolling the area where children are loading and unloading on the school buses.