VIRGINIA BEACH -- The Virginia Department of Social Services is investigating a complaint of a toddler walking out of a daycare and nearly getting struck by a car.
According to the child's mother, the incident happened in June at the Childtime Daycare on Las Brisas Drive in Virginia Beach.
For professional reasons, the child's mother prefers to remain anonymous but she talks openly about her anger over what could have happened to her two-year-old boy.
"That is their only job --is to take care of my son and keep him safe and they couldn't do it," she says.
Sheri Mellides was driving in the neighborhood and says she couldn't believe her eyes when the boy ran out in front of her car. She's thankful she was only going 20 mph in a 25 mph zone and that the boy didn't make it a block away to the dangerous Sandbridge Road.
"As I came down the street, this little boy -- he appeared to be about two years old -- came darting down the street. He was carrying a ball and he was giggling. He bolted out in front of me completely and then he went back into the parking lot and as I was pulling over, he came out a second time," Mellides recounts.
That's when nearby resident, Julio Altuna, walked up and grabbed the boy. Altuna and Mellides took him back to the daycare and knocked on a window to get a teacher's attention.
"I said, 'There's a little boy loose here' and she just kind of looked at me and I repeated myself," says Mellides.
What makes the boy's mother even angrier, is she says the daycare gave her an incident report that only explained what happened as an "unplanned departure." There is no mention that the boy made it out to the street and was brought back by strangers. According to the child's mother, teachers said the boy got out of the emergency door, was grabbed by a parent, was immediately brought back in and was safe.
But Altuna, who waited for the mother to pick up her son, told her a different story.
“He said to me, 'It’s completely not true. Your son was out in the main road. He almost got hit by a car. I grabbed him and brought him back to the center and they had no idea he was missing.'"
That night, the boy's mom filed a complaint with Child Protective Services. Virginia Department of Social Services spokesperson, Necole Simmonds, confirms an investigation has been initiated.
A statement from Childtime's Director of Communications states: "We have strict policies and procedures to ensure the well-being of our children. We have thoroughly investigated the situation and will take all appropriate steps to address the issue and prevent it from happening in the future. We take our responsibility as caregivers very seriously."
SEARCH HERE: Has your child's daycare been cited for any violations?
A check on the Virginia Social Services website shows the Childtime on Las Brisas Drive has been the target of complaints before. In March of this year, it was investigated for inappropriate discipline. According to the report, "The center failed to ensure that behavior guidance is constructive in nature" after a staff member said to a child, "I going to get you with your mom's belt."
The center has been cited for 11 violations from 2009 through March of this year.
According to the fire protection engineer for the city of Virginia Beach, emergency exit doors at daycare centers are not required to have an alarm.
The boy's mother has taken her son and his younger sister out of the daycare. As she waits for the investigation to be completed, she's also searching for a new childcare.
“One split second and my entire life would be over because someone didn't fix the door or a teacher wasn't paying attention or they couldn't handle the ratio. I don't know what the reason is exactly -- that my son got out at two years old, he should not be able to exit an emergency door and be able to play out in the street for an extended period of time.”