An 8-year-old Lawrence boy who wandered away from his special needs class and who was found later at a phone store had been missing for more than half an hour before school officials noticed, police said today.
The boy, who attends Edward F. Parthum Elementary School in Lawrence, left his classroom around 1:57 p.m. Tuesday and walked toward Interstate 495, Police Chief John Romero said. School officials realized the boy was missing around 2:30 p.m., when they were supposed to bring him to a bus.
School officials contacted police, Romero said, and a motorist called 911 minutes later to report a child walking alone near the highway.
A second passing motorist then apparently picked the boy up, Romero said. When the woman realized the boy was growing uneasy, she inexplicably dropped him off at a fast food restaurant. The boy then wandered into a T-Mobile store on Winthrop Avenue.
A clerk at the phone store called police, Romero said.
The boy was not injured and was returned to his mother just after 3 p.m., he said.
"The issue at the school is kind of troubling," Romero said. "They didn't realize the student was missing for over a half hour, and that's a problem."
The school is taking steps to prevent such things from happening again, including bringing students from class to class, he said.
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more