5 Year Old Boy Walks Home From School

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -- A five year old boy slips past teachers on Monday and gets out of the Kindergarten Center in Jonesboro and starts walking home.  Only when a couple spots the boy walking and reports it to the school and to the police is it realized that the boy wasn't on the bus.

Kindergarten Center Principal Bryan Russell says the school has van riders and bus riders that congregate in different areas and instead of going with the bus group, and 5-year-old Zane Smith had gotten in with the daycare group.

"He said he wanted to ride the cool buses, which to me means the vans that take the kids to daycare.  They have to go into the library so I supposed he got mixed up with them and he just left," said Zane's mom Kristen Phelps.

"When the daycare kids went one direction to load he simply went another and he went out the front gate and down the sidewalk and we knew nothing about it," said Russell.

Russell says a teacher's aide told him on Wednesday morning that she had stopped Smith and he had told her he was walking home that day.  She directed him to the library where he could wait for someone to walk him home, but the small boy had already made up his mind that he was walking home.

Zane walked almost two miles towards his house.  He stopped at the St. John Baptist Church on North Church Street where a couple spotted him walking and called police and the school.

His mother takes Zane to school sometimes, but he always rides the bus home from school so she was terrified when she was told he wasn't on the bus and had been found walking home.

"Has he been run over?  Has he been abducted?  Why is my child walking home?  He rides the bus," said Phelps.

There are 275 bus riders at the Kindergarten Center and five teachers on duty inside the cafeteria where they wait for the buses to come.  This precaution is one that has been working.

"We spend so much time thinking of every possible safety we can take and in this instance it just wasn't enough," said Russell.

After this, lessons have been learned by everyone involved.

"Hopefully it will help us think through and find that gap that Zane was able to find and fill it," said Russell.

As for Zane, his mom said she has told him how dangerous walking home from school can be and how important it is for him to get on the bus so he can get home safely.

"He thought it was cool what he had done.  He thought it was cool and I tried to explain to him that he didn't need to walk and everything that could happen to him," said Phelps.

This incident has sparked some changes for the Kindergarten Center.  The van drivers are now checking their roll of riders inside the library where they gather to make sure there aren't any kids there that shouldn't be.  The vans are also now in a different location.  They are now picking kids up from the back where the buses come up.