PLANTATION, Fla. - A mom called 911 after finding her 2-year-old daughter crying and locked inside a dark, empty South Florida day care.
Stephanie Martinez found the KinderCare Child Care Center in Plantation locked up when she arrived Tuesday afternoon to pick up her daughter Anna, WSVN reported.
"They know I get here around 6, 6:15, because I have to pick up my other son by 6," she said. "I get here, everything’s shut off, no cars, which is weird."
Martinez then called her daughter's aunt and emergency contact, Samantha Scaramellino, to see if she had picked up Anna.
"She was like, ‘Do you know where Anna is?’ I’m like, ‘no.’ She’s like, ‘I’m at the school, no one's here.’ My heart dropped," Scaramellino recalled.
She told Martinez to start making noise in an attempt to get someone's attention inside.
"Bang on every window," Scaramellino advised. "See if you hear anything. See if you hear crying."
As Martinez began pounding on the glass, she began to hear something inside. Then she saw her daughter peering at her from the window.
"She managed to push a chair next to the door to stand on it and call for my name, and that was the only reason that I was able to see her, is because she’s shorter than the door. She got on the chair to say, ‘Mommy,’" Martinez told WSVN.
Once she could see Anna, who was crying inside the building by herself, Martinez called 911.
Plantation police and fire rescue crews arrived and forced the doors open, let the child out and made sure she was OK.
The day care center closes at 6 p.m. but the mother said no one had called her to pick up the girl.
KinderCare said in a statement that it takes seriously any concerns about child safety and will be notifying state licensing and child protective services officials of the incident. They also told WSVN the staff members involved were placed on administrative leave while they look into the incident.
"As these investigations take place, we’ll also take immediate steps to ensure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again," the statement said, adding that teachers will be retrained on proper child supervision. "They’ll also receive additional training on child care best practices as part of the curriculum we already had planned for all teachers and staff at our centers across the country for Professional Development Day on Monday."
"What if she fell off the table? You know, she used a chair to get by the door. Like, she’s traumatized. Last night I couldn’t turn off the light; she started crying," Martinez told WSVN.
School officials told Martinez the incident happened due to short staffing.
"Everyone's short-staffed but that is not an excuse – this is a child," Martinez said.
Plantation police are continuing to investigate the incident.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.