Girl, 4, Momentarily Feared Kidnapped After Day Care Gives Woman the Wrong Kid
Staffers at Pathways Early Learning Center in Port Orange told Holly Smith, 32, that her 4-year-old daughter had already been picked up by her mother.
A Florida mother’s worst nightmare appeared to come true when she arrived at her children’s day care at pick-up time and found that one of her daughters was mistakenly given to a complete stranger, officials said.
Staffers at Pathways Early Learning Center in Port Orange told Holly Smith, 32, that her 4-year-old daughter had already been picked up by her mother when she arrived to pick up her little girl at about 5:30 p.m. last Friday, the Port Orange Police Department said.
Insisting that she was her daughter’s mother and that she had not given anyone permission to pick up her child, Smith called 911.
"Somebody has taken my daughter," she tearfully told the 911 dispatcher. "They said somebody gave them an ID and said that I approved to pick her up and I didn’t."
Smith said that she was told her daughter seemed hesitant to go with the woman who arrived for her, noting that someone on the phone claiming to be her mother told the little girl to go with the unknown adult.
“[The woman] was saying that ‘I’m her [mother’s] co-worker and that I was going to watch her today'… she was like, 'We’ve never met,' [meaning] the girl and her, they’d never met,” a staffer said on the 911 call released to InsideEdition.com.
Staffers eventually realized that another child was still at the day care, and when her parents were contacted, they said their child had already been picked up, police said.
They then realized that the adult had taken the wrong child.
The woman later returned to the day care with Smith’s daughter.
“[The woman] stated she did not know she took the wrong child and she was supposed to pick up [another little girl] but instead left with [Smith’s daughter,” according to a police report filed by Port Orange Police and obtained by InsideEdition.com.
Police said no investigation is underway as there was no criminal activity.
Smith removed her children from the day care, telling WKMG-TV she believed the mistake was inexcusable.
"They have all these security measures, and it was still allowed for my child to go home with the wrong person," she told the station.
A staffer told the 911 operator that there are no surveillance cameras inside the facility.
"I lost it, because that would have been the only lead in finding whoever took her," Smith told WKMG-TV.
In a statement to InsideEdition.com, the Pathways Early Learning called the incident "an incorrect pairing of parent and child at school dismissal."
"One child’s parent had made advanced arrangements to have a friend pick up her child. The friend had never met the child before,” the statement said. “When she arrived at the center, she provided proper ID to prove she was the parent’s appointee. Apparently, this appointee retrieved the incorrect child.
“Immediately upon discovering the inadvertence, the center was able to effect the correct pairings. All children were safe and accounted for in just over one hour ... The Center is further perfecting its security plan as well as cooperating with all governmental agencies regarding the matter.
"The Center is overjoyed that the day ended with all children in their appropriate homes. Pathways Early Learning Center is an excellent child learning facility and an asset to our community."
The day care could face up to a $500 fine for not following state protocol, officials said.
It has had no violations since it opened in June 2014, a spokeswoman for the facility said.
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