Autistic child safe after wandering off from after school program

WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Sixty-five kids were on the playground at White Knoll Elementary late last week, but it only took one of them to make the afternoon extra scary for a Midlands mother.

Chanski Ludley was frantic after getting a call at work about her son, LJ. She learned had wondered away. The 7-year-old has autism.

The CEO of the Boys and Girls Club says the counselor who was supposed to be watching LJ, was distracted by another student when the boy wondered off.

"This child, LJ, was able to sneak away from the program through a gap in the fence," said Boys and Girls Club spokesperson Carter Clark.

"Just the thought of him running around somewhere, I just lost it," said Ludley.

LJ walked alone around a wooded trail near the school until a nearby homeowner spotted him.

The neighbor, who lives back in the woods, says he saw LJ along the path. He followed the child at a distance to make sure LJ got back to school safely.

Clark says LJ was gone less than 10 minutes. Ludley says she can't bear the thought of her son disappearing again, so she's taking him out of the program. Thursday was his last day.

"They didn't know where my son was and I trusted them here to watch him," said Ludley. "I'm just so thankful nothing happened to him."

The CEO says they have re-trained staff on proper supervision since the incident.