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Autistic 1st Grader Disappears From Hayward School, Turns Up At Chuck E. Cheese

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HAYWARD (CBS 5) – The mother of an autistic 6-year-old boy is looking for answers from her son’s Hayward school after he went missing and turned up at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant more than a mile and a half away.

Krystal Cathcart said she arrived to pick up her son, Kailen, just after 5 p.m. at his after-school program at Southgate Elementary School on Tuesday.

The first-grader was nowhere to be found and staffers were not aware until Krystal showed up. “The police were not called until they realized, they saw the look on my face that he was missing and he was not on the campus,” said Cathcart

A half-dozen police officers, and nearly every adult on campus frantically searched the area.

A half an hour later, at 5:40, Cathcart got a call from the manager a Chuck E. Cheese – 1.6 miles away. The manager had gotten her number from the medical id bracelet her son wears.

Both the school district superintendent and the Southgate principal declined an on-camera interview. The after-school staff claimed that Kailen made a run for it when his mom came to pick him up.

That means a 6-year-old autistic boy snuck past a dragnet of police and school staff, navigated several busy intersections, and walked 1.6 miles in less than half an hour. Even the principal acknowledged the numbers don’t add up.

Kailen is still learning to talk and couldn’t say how he made it across all that rush-hour traffic.

Krystal, who is the PTA vice-president, said the after-school staff was negligent and wants them out of the classroom.

Asked if she wanted the after-school staff fired, Cathcart said, “Whatever happens, happens to them. And I don’t feel sorry for them.”

“I could be writing his obituary today … that cannot happen and that’s not acceptable.”

The district said it was still investigating.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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