A MOTHER-OF-TWO has described her absolute horror at arriving to pick up her four-year-old daughter from child care to be told that her daughter had already been picked up by another woman.
Holly Smith arrived at her daughter's child care, Pathways Early Learning Center on Friday afternoon and was told that Emily, 4, wasn't there.
The 32-year-old mum told News 6, in Florida, where the incident happened, that her daughter's carers told her that they thought she sent a coworker to pick up her daughter and they spoke to her on the phone to check that it was OK.
In terror she phoned police.
A record of her emergency call hears her say "I have no idea who it would have been."
"They said they had made arrangements but I hadn't. I am sorry for calling 911 but I didn't know what else to do."
In floods of tears, and unable to talk a worker at the center gets on the line and explains that a woman presented ID to a teacher and had told them that an arrangement had been made to pick Emily up.
She says that Emily had been reluctant to leave with the stranger, but that the imposter said the child's mother was on the phone and that it was okay to go.
On Facebook, Christa Hill, a friend of Hollys explains:" The child was put on the phone with "her" Mom and told to go with the person. The other mom (from the phone) is the one who called and authorized her own kid (child left behind) to go with this coworker. How she didn't recognize her child on the phone is beyond me.
My friend's kid tried to say "I'm not supposed to go with strangers" and that's why they put other Mom on the phone with her."
To make matters worse, when staff began looking for surveillance footage to determine who it was that collected Emily, they realises that the CCTV cameras at the Pathways Early Learning Center were not working.
"I was told the cameras weren't functioning," Smith said. "I lost it, because that would have been the only lead in finding whoever took her."
The ordeal lasted two hours, until when the day care was near closing staff realised there was still one child left behind.
"There was another child left behind, that we figured (it) out, this other adult took the wrong child," she said.
"It was just almost two hours of pure hell," Holly said.
Finally, the other woman brought Emily back to the daycare. The day care say that woman is a friend of another mother and was instructed to pick up her child but accidentally collected the wrong one.
Pathways Early Learning Center told News 6 in a statement that there had been "an incorrect pairing of parent and child at school dismissal."
"The child's parent had made advanced arrangements to have a friend pick up the child. The friend had never met the child before. When she arrived at the center, she provided proper ID to prove she was the parent's appointee. Apparently, this appointee retrieved the incorrect child. Immediately upon discovering the inadvertence, the center was able to effect the correct pairings."
They said that all children were "safe and accounted for within a short time" and that the center is "conducting an investigation as well as cooperating with all governmental agencies regarding the matter."
Holly, who says she chose the centre because of its security measures that include a fingerprint system on a touch screen computer, has now removed both of her daughters from the center after the scare.
This article originally appeared on Kidspot and has been reproduced here with permission.