5-year-old goes missing from summer camp
(WVUE) - "I just felt like somebody ripped my heart out of my body," says Jonquil Romant.
Romant feared the worst when the summer camp her child attended said they couldn't find her 5-year-old son.
"That's my child. That's somebody I brought into this world. I go to work every day. I break my back every day to make sure I can care and provide for him. That's mine," said Romant.
The day started like any other. Romant dropped her child of at City of Love Church Summer Camp where kids were set to go on a field trip to a skating rink. But while at work, Romant received a troubling phone call.
"Saying they're at the skating rink and they cannot find Zane. He's missing. They wanted me to describe what he was wearing," Romant explained. "They said they were calling back-and-forth, and they said nobody saw him. He was nowhere to be found."
When chaperones still couldn't locate Zane, Romant rushed to the rink to help look.
"All I'm thinking is, how long was he left alone? How did you all not notice he was left alone?" exclaimed Romant. "Maybe he wandered out and fell into the canal because he was looking for somebody. Maybe somebody took him from the skating rink. Anything could've happened."
"I called my daughter, did they do an Amber alert? Did they call the police?" said Zane's grandmother, Kendra Smith.
The search at the rink came up empty. But while still at the skating rink, about an hour after she was first notified Zane was missing, a call came in from the church. The janitor found Zane sleeping in a corner in the back of the church.
"How could you not see him? How could you not care enough to get him? And that's all I kept thinking," Romant said.
Romant has worked in childcare for 11 years and says she knows the importance of headcounts to keep track of kids at all times. It's something she says wasn't done in this case.
"This was a more fortunate situation because we actually found him. He was safe. He was not harmed, but the next child might not be so fortunate," explained Romant.
It's why she hopes the summer camp invests time into chaperone training, stressing greater supervision.
Maya Wyche, Interim Chief Executive Officer of NORDC, released this statement:
"Thousands of families entrust their children to our summer camps each year, and we take that trust extremely seriously. It is our priority to act quickly on any camp issues and potential improvements to our programs, and partnerships.
"In this instance -- while the child in question was never left alone while at the City of Love summer camp site, human error led to an inaccurate head count prior to departure for a field trip.
"We are addressing the incident with camp staff to prevent such an occurrence in the future. We will continue to work closely with all of our summer camps to ensure proper implementation of rules and safety procedures."
Yet, Romant argues Zane was left alone. She says the janitor who found did not know he was there, thus, the janitor was not caring for him.
"Somebody is putting their child in your hands. Somebody is trusting you fully with their child. That's our most precious possession. I'm trusting you with my child, and I expect him to be cared for properly," Romant said.
Romant says the City of Love Church Pastor got in touch with her Wednesday afternoon. She says he asked if they could pray together over the phone. They did. Romant says the pastor also offered her two free weeks of summer camp, which she declined. She says Zane will not return.