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Boy found wandering reunited with parents

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    ROELAND PARK, Kansas (KCTV) — A tense six hours ended with hugs when a boy found wandering in a Walmart parking lot was reunited with his parents.

Roeland Park Police had put out a plea to find the 8-year-old’s family Friday afternoon. A customer found him at 3:30 p.m. He spoke no English and didn’t know much about where he lived.

After his parents saw the plea on the news and came to get him, police explained he was at the store with his pregnant mom and elderly grandma and a bunch of other kids, and they just lost track of the headcount and who had whom.

Making that reunion happen involved lots of people, starting with a customer who stepped in. Some people busily go about their day, but Victoria Perez was stopped in her tracks by what she saw.

“Just a little random kid walking across the parking lot into traffic, and nobody was helping him, so I figured I would stop,” Perez said.

She sought out a bi-lingual customer for help, then got Walmart security to call police, who got a Spanish speaking officer to him. He said he’d moved to the city just a few weeks ago. All he knew about where he lived is it was a tan apartment.

They drove around with him in a squad car to see if he recognized any apartments nearby — to no avail. Perez insisted on riding along.

“I mean I would want somebody who found my kid to stay with him,” Perez said. “I mean I’m still a mom, so I just don’t want to leave this kid with these random men who are in uniforms who, given the story that he’s given us, could be traumatizing.”

Officer Anthony Estrada was trying to piece together what happened. First the child said he was with his mom and got separated from her. Then he said he had walked to the store alone to look at toys.

“He seems very confused,” Estrada said when the search for the boy’s parents was still ongoing. “Doesn’t seem like anything is familiar to him. And that’s kind of what’s concerning.”

A social worker with children’s services arrived at about 6 p.m. They feared they would have to take him to a children’s facility. At 7 pm. they said they’d identified a foster family who could care for him temporarily in a home setting. They took off for Olathe to begin that process. They’d barely arrived when they turned back around for the police station, where his parents were waiting.

Police Chief John Morris said the parents were both embarrassed and joyful.

“There’s just a lot of things going on in people’s lives, and it happens,” Morris said about what led the boy to be left there. “Fortunately, it wasn’t something that was tragic. I don’t think it was something that was malicious. I don’t think there was any criminal intent. But we’re still going to do the right thing and do the follow up with the state officials and make sure that everything is in place that is going to be a positive impact for the family in the future.”

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