Goose Creek — For about four hours Wednesday morning, deputies, police, firefighters and bloodhounds combed through the Boulder Bluff neighborhood. Even a helicopter hovered over, searching for a 10-year-old girl who ran away from her school.
The child had been captured on surveillance video walking out of Boulder Bluff Elementary on Judy Drive at 9:11 a.m., according to Goose Creek police. She was alone, but that didn’t keep authorities from scouring the area to find the child as quickly as they could.
In a methodical nature, several dozen Goose Creek police officers, Berkeley County sheriff’s deputies and firefighters split up in groups and covered the streets surrounding the school.
A Boulder Bluff resident was aware of the fact the child was missing (after seeing media reports) and saw the child in an area behind his backyard fence. The resident’s wife called Goose Creek police while he hailed a member of the search party who was in the area.
The child was found and taken into custody.
One of the authorities carried the 10-year-old, who buried her face on the man’s shoulder, her brown hair swept over her face. She was OK, but seemingly a little shaken up.
Search crews placed the child in the back seat of a cruiser and took off, later reuniting her with her parents.
The girl’s father told friends on Facebook moments before she was found that she had been in an argument with her teacher before running off from the school. Goose Creek Police Capt. John Grainger also said they were told the child argued with a staff member before walking off campus.
Questions about what led to the girl’s departure and how she was able to leave the school remained unanswered Wednesday.
Susan Haire, spokeswoman for the Berkeley County School District, said at this point they can’t answer those questions.
Haire said the school staff is highly trained to respond and assess emergency situations. She said it’s against policy to release specific safety protocol or procedures to the public because they don’t want “anyone, well intentioned or otherwise, to breach our practices or thwart our efforts to keep children safe,” she stated.
Adult supervision is required at all student functions and cameras are located at all 41 schools in the district, inside and outside of the facilities, according to Haire.
Haire also released statements, before and after the child was found. “This morning, a Boulder Bluff Elementary student left class voluntarily and exited the campus. The child’s parents and the authorities were called immediately,” she stated by email.
The school sent a phone notification message to all parents, Haire said. A reverse 911 call was also made to those living within three miles of the school, authorities said. During the four hours she was unaccounted for, police believe the child remained between the school and the location she was found on Stephanie Drive. The girl’s father said she is in good health and said he was grateful to the local authorities for their rapid response.
Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.