5-year-old left at water park for hours after campers, counselors leave without him
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - A Lowcountry mother says her six-year-old son is recovering after being left in a water park for nearly two hours by himself.
Britt Bailey says her two children attend summer camp at St. Andrew's Parks & Playground.
Her son, Charlie Bailey, who was five years old at the time of the incident, thought he’d never see his family again.
“I never thought no one would recognize me from my school,” he said.
Britt Bailey said it’s a miracle her son was found unharmed.
“They left him in a pool. He could’ve drowned," she said.
What was supposed to be a fun day for Charlie quickly became a nightmare; that is, until he saw a familiar face from an after-school program he attends during the school year.
“They called someone they knew that works at the camp and they picked me up," Charlie added.
According to Kevin Walsh, executive director of the St. Andrew's Parks & Playground, the camp staff didn’t follow a number of protocols. He sent a statement to ABC News 4 saying:
"Campers should have been divided into small groups of no more than 8 and assigned to a counselor. These groups were supposed to do everything and go everywhere together. The camps counselors on this trip decided to break up into stations to guard various areas of the park. This was a mistake and should not have happened."
He added, "In addition to a head count, roll call of our camp participants should have been taken before the bus left any facility. The counselors only took a head count and obviously miscounted."
Bailey said the camp never independently realized Charlie was missing.
“They were not even aware that they got back to the camp without him, they had no idea," she said.
Bailey said she was never notified during the entire ordeal.
“All that kept going through my head is, 'Why didn’t they call me? No one had notified me, they waited until I came to pick him up.”
Walsh said the counselors involved have all been reprimanded although no one was terminated.
Bailey said she believes the punishments should be firm.
“I expressed to the committee that I believe that those individuals need to be removed because you’re not given a second chance to get your child back."
Bailey said police were never called once her son was discovered missing.
Walsh said kids will now have to wear bright colored t-shirts on trips and wrist bands.
ABC News 4 asked the Department of Social Services about the incident, they told us they do not monitor complaints or violations from centers that are not specified as childcare facilities.