When an innocent little girl was dropped off at home, she broke down in tears and started wandering the streets alone. She frantically tried to locate her daycare and was at risk of various dangers.
Children are vulnerable to all kinds of evil in the world, and without the protection of their parents or caring adults, things can quickly become perilous.
In 2017, a six-year-old child was dropped off at the wrong place after school, and when she realized nobody was home, she tried to walk to her daycare. Read her story and discover what happened when a stranger saw her wandering.
A stranger spotted a young child walking along the highway. | Source: youtube.com/Inside Edition
THE DRIVER'S MISTAKE
Julianna Pimentel's bus driver dropped her off at the daycare center after school because her parents held full-time jobs. The little girl was familiar with the routine, but things went wrong when a substitute driver took over her route.
When driver Shelley McKinley asked Julianna where her house was, the little girl showed her the way and was swiftly dropped off in front of her residence. However, nobody was home to receive the young child.
Confused and scared, Julianna started walking in the direction of her daycare. She made her way along the Canton Highway in Georgia on a cold winter day without a jacket to keep her warm.
Dash camera shows a little girl wandering a busy highway. | Source: youtube.com/Inside Edition
A STRANGER STOPPED BY THE LITTLE GIRL
It was almost rush hour, and the highway was busy, with lots of cars and passersby. Julianna was terrified, and tears ran down her cheeks as she frantically tried to find someone or something familiar.
A car pulled up alongside the road where she was walking, and a stranger asked: "What's wrong?" With a shaky voice, Julianna replied: "I lost my family! The bus took me to my house, and nobody was there."
SHE KNEW SOMETHING WAS OFF
Miraculously, private investigator Jane Holmes was en route to the Forsyth County courthouse, and she happened to notice the little girl who was out of place. Holmes dealt with missing person's cases regularly, and she knew something was off.
"I see this little girl running—she’s running, she’s walking and she’s crying. It’s one of the busiest highways in Georgia."
After speaking with the sobbing Julianna, Holmes initially thought she might have run away from home, so she drove her to the sheriff's office for safety.
Private investigator Jane Holmes who found a little girl wandering the streets. | Source: youtube.com/Inside Edition
THE LITTLE GIRL WAS PLACED IN GRAVE DANGER
Holmes's dashboard camera recorded the entire experience, and the footage displayed the lost girl, who had already walked a quarter-mile. The private investigator thought about the dangers and everything that could have gone wrong.
"I see the evil in the world. I kept thinking of all the bad things that could have happened. She could have been abducted, she could have been hit, she could have fallen off the edge ... it's very scary."
Private investigator Jane Holmes and Julianna's dad, Gilberto Pimentel. | Source: youtube.com/FOX 5 Atlanta
THE PARENTS WERE DEVASTATED BY THE NEWS
Gilberto Pimentel and his wife were still working while their child was unknowingly in danger. The father was shocked when the daycare center messaged him to say their bus driver passed without dropping Julianna off.
The worried dad said:
"I [had] this gut feeling that something wrong was happening. What drives me crazy is the school bus driver acknowledged the lady from the daycare standing outside, but she never stopped."
Gilberto's devastated wife eventually called him, and she was emotional as she shared: "They found Julianna ... they found her on the side of the road."
Julianna's dad, Gilberto Pimentel. | Source: youtube.com/FOX 5 Atlanta
THE BUS DRIVER WAS FIRED
The parents were relieved when they arrived at the sheriff's office and saw their child safe and sound. Holmes was equally delighted that the case had a happy ending, and she remained friends with Julianna after the ordeal.
Driver Shelley McKinley was swiftly fired, and Gilberto was considering pressing charges against her. The dad stated: "Is it justice? She put my daughter in harm. She's an adult, she knew."
He also called the driver's actions "completely wrong" and was dumbfounded by the careless way she left a child alone without ensuring her safety.
THE LITTLE GIRL WAS TRAUMATIZED BY THE INCIDENT
Julianna also suffered long-term effects and trauma following the incident. The little girl returned to school, but she was terrified to use the bus again. She told her parents she didn't want to be alone, and they were working on a solution.
Gilberto said the transportation system lost his trust, and he added:
"Somebody could’ve picked her up saying, 'I’ll take you to safety' and we may have never seen her again. I can't sleep thinking about all the bad things that could have happened."
NEVER LEAVE A CHILD ALONE WITHOUT PERMISSION
To avoid similar incidents in the future, all transportation providers should familiarize themselves with the guidelines presented by the Georgia Department of Education Pupil Transportation Division.
They provide a manual explaining what bus drivers must do when dropping kids off. A section stipulated:
"If the parent is not at home, NEVER leave a child home alone without written permission from the parent."
The bus drivers are instructed to drive by the children's home again at the end of the route. If the second attempt to drop them off also failed, they must bring them to the transportation department, where an alternative plan can be made.
Click here for another story about a bus driver who hurried away with two kids still on board the vehicle. The children's mother was shocked and worried about their safety.