Autistic girl wanders 100 blocks from school

March 18, 2011 8:28:52 PM PDT
Pamela Koster can't help but get emotional when she talks about the day her daughter Kristin LaGrega, autistic and who can't tell you her name, was able to wander away from a supervised playground at PS 256 in Belle Harbor, Queens. It happened on Wednesday.

"Nobody could find her. But I'm sorry, if there are six kids in the playground and there are four teachers how long does it take to notice that she's not there?" Koster said.

Long enough, she says, for Kristin to take off on an odyssey and no one is sure of the route.

Kristin's mother says she could not have taken a straight route. She says she would have zigzagged along several major roadways and even gotten around a major construction site.

Finally ending up more than 100 blocks away next to her former home ringing a neighbor's doorbell.

When asked how long her daughter was missing, Koster said, "They tried to say it was only an hour. Can you walk 100 blocks in an hour?

School officials believe she left the playground at 10 a.m. and was found at 11:30 a.m.

A school spokesperson says, "As soon as the child was missing the school contacted 911 and called the mother's cell phone and left a message."

"I just think how this child walked all that way by herself the fear she must have felt," Koster said.

School officials add, "The principal is investigating and some staff members face disciplinary action."

But because Kristin also walked away from school a month ago: "It happens a second time? No, that's neglect now. You did something wrong," Koster said.