KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Five young children are safe after wandering through a gate at a Johnson County day care center and disappearing behind an apartment complex.
People at Little Learners Day Care at 142nd Street and Mur-Len Road said the children were only gone for about a minute or two, but Olathe police said it was more like 20 minutes."I was working in this building right here, in Apartment 507," said maintenance worker Geno Wallace, who said a tenant brought him a toddler that appeared to be lost.Wallace said he soon found out someone was looking for another child.He and a tenant began searching the area, which isn't frightening for adults but potentially threatening for a small child."As we ran around this corner here, we got to looking again, and we went a little bit further and further down the way, up in the bushes. Sure enough, there were two more children," Wallace said.He said the children were barely 2 or 3 years old. He said he didn't know where the kids had come from or if something sinister was going on, so he called his office for help."I was on my walkie-talkie and I was saying, 'Hey, I've got some kids back here behind the building. I have children back here. Can somebody send somebody back here?'" he said.He said he asked someone to call the police."I said, 'Yeah. We need the police here. We've got five kids back here, all different nationalities, 2 years old, they're up in the bushes. It looks bizarre,'" Wallace said.Someone soon figured out the children were from Little Learners and that there had been a problem with a latch on the playground gate.The owner said three employees were watching eight children and five of them got out the gate. The workers said the children were only gone for a minute or two and were found playing outside the fence.Wallace said it was much worse than that."We all make mistakes, but five children? It was scary, very scary," he said.Late Friday, Jeni Amonette told KMBC that she is pulling her 18-month-old son out of the center."I've walked out there before and the girls that work here -- they're young girls or whatever -- and i've walked out a few times and (they) have been chatting with themselves and the kids have been around the corner," she said.The day care sent a letter home with parents to tell them what had happened. It said three employees have been suspended.The case has been turned over to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.The Little Learners Day Care on Mur-Len Road is not affiliated with another center by the same name in the Cedar Creek area.