GILBERT, Ariz. - Some employees of a Gilbert daycare have been suspended after seven toddlers were found wandering near a busy road. It happened just before 10 a.m. Friday morning, and three Good Samaritans stopped to help.
The children attend Little Sunshine's Playhouse and Preschool and Val Vista Drive just north of Guadalupe Road. Gilbert PD says a gate on the playground somehow malfunctioned and the kids were able to leave. Employees were reportedly present but didn't see this happen.
Three drivers noticed the kids standing very close to the road. They brought the kids back to the daycare and notified police. Officers say they don't expect criminal charges at this time but are still investigating.
Jason Schwartz left work early after he heard about what happened at his daughter's preschool in Gilbert.
"It's very disconcerting," Schwartz said. "Obviously you drop your kids off here with the intention of making sure they're safe."
Two kids got close to Val Vista's bike lane. Drivers reportedly slammed on the brakes and helped wrangle the toddlers. All seven children were thankfully OK.
"Yeah, that, there's no excuse for," said Laura Dill, a mother of a girl who goes to the preschool. "It's a bummer. I'm a teacher [and] I know how quickly things can get away."
Dill says she's had nothing but good experiences with the preschool. Still, the gate mishap was alarming.
"First and foremost, everyone's safe — everything's fine and now, what's going to happen?" Dill said. "I mean, I love Little Sunshine. I'm not pulling my kid [out of school], I love it here and if anything, I think the school's going to be even safer now because I think they're going to be hyper-vigilant about everything."
The daycare released the following statement:
"As soon as we learned of the incident, we immediately contacted the parents of the students involved, suspended the teachers pending the investigation, and self-reported to the State of Arizona Childcare licensing. We are taking this incident very seriously as the safety of each of our students is our top priority."
They say they are also inspecting the gates and fence and won't allow the children to play outside until repairs are made.