A careless Manhattan day care with a broken front door lock let a 2-year-old child wander out to the streets — where he wandered around before a good Samaritan brought him to safety, the boy’s mother and officials told The Post.
Curtayasia Taylor, 37, dropped off her son Apollo Vaughn at the St. Benedict’s Day Nursery on West 124th Street around 8:40 a.m. Thursday morning and left the child in his teacher’s care after she signed him in, Taylor told The Post, adding she pays nearly $1,000 a month.
“Don’t worry, I got him,” the teacher told Taylor, who was in a rush to get to Mount Sinai hospital, where her mother is struggling with cancer.
Approximately 45 minutes later, Taylor received a call from a number she didn’t recognize and on the other end was her son’s teacher who told her Apollo had gone missing inside the building.
Her heart dropped.
“What do you mean he’s missing inside the building?” Taylor barked into the phone.
It turns out the teacher was lying and her son was not missing in the building and had actually wandered out of the unsecured front door of the day care and walked down West 124th Street.
She grabbed a cab and rushed back to the day care, and when she walked inside and asked where her son was, she was told by a secretary, “We don’t know where he is…. A man in a [Mercedes] Benz has him,” Taylor recounted.
She went outside and looked down the road and saw the man in the luxury car and screamed: “What are you doing with my son?”
“Ma’am, calm down, I helped save your son’s life. He was about to cross the street,” the man replied.
He told her Apollo was inside the Harlem Village Academy High School, a few doors down from the day care, where he was brought by the good Samaritan after he tried to cross the street.
Taylor walked inside and found her son on the floor, playing with markers, and was told by the dean of students the staff at the day care tried to downplay the incident by saying Apollo was lost “inside the building.”
“He wanted me to understand they didn’t know where he was for at least 25 minutes,” Taylor said, still shaken from the incident, adding the day care staff showed up at the high school and tried to bring Apollo back to the nursery.
She demanded to see surveillance video and was even more horrified when she saw her toddler son walking alone in such a busy section of the city.
“I was hysterical … he was out the building walking down the street, he could’ve been abducted, he almost got hit by a car,” Taylor said.
The video, provided to The Post by Taylor, shows the child toddling down the busy Harlem street, alone, in a winter jacket with his hands in his pockets and moments later, shows him with a woman, assisted by the man in the Mercedes, who walks him back in the other direction.
“The video was more horrifying than the actual phone call to see him walking … to see his little feet just walking down the street and anybody could’ve took him … my heart was racing. Even now, I have him, he’s with me, but I couldn’t sleep last night.
“I have no words to describe this because it’s something so unexpected. As a parent, you try to put your child in the most protective safe situation you can think of and I never would’ve imagined ever in a million years that my child was not only lost, not in the day care, but walking up and down the street.”
The Department of Health and the Administration for Children Services were called to the scene. The DOH said the day care “failed to maintain proper child-to-staff ratio and that the front door of the establishment was not secured due to a broken lock, nor was it properly monitored. No effort to secure the door was made.”
The agency said it has shut down the nursery and “will require a corrective action plan before they will be reauthorized to reopen.”
A spokesperson for the NYPD, who called the incident “terrible” and said it made their “stomach churn,” said police responded to the scene and a report was filed.
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