Young girl found wandering Northeast Austin streets

Young girl found wandering Northeast Austin streets

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The Austin Independent School District has placed a teacher on administrative leave after a pre-kindergarten student wandered away from the playground at J.J. Pickle Elementary Thursday.

AISD says that move is standard protocol pending an investigation into what happened and what went wrong. Friday, a substitute teacher and an assistant were inside the classroom.

This all happened Thursday morning when the child's class was at recess. Around the same time Martin Lopez was inside his house at the corner of Providence and St. John's.

"I heard a big truck's horn and I knew something was crossing the road," Lopez explained. He had no way of knowing that something was a little girl.

"When I looked out there was a girl in pink clothes in the middle of the street. I dropped what I was doing," he said. Lopez ran towards the intersection and into the street which isn't easy for him after knee surgery just a few weeks ago.

"I said mehia don't move," recalled Lopez.

He says he's not a hero and that he was just doing what any man should do. Lopez says a firefighter heading to a nearby call radioed for police.

Lopez sat the little girl down in the shade and gave her a cool glass of water.

"She was a sweet little girl, not scared and in her own little world," described Lopez.

The pre-kindergarten student wandered away from the playground without anyone realizing she was gone. Police helped her get back to school safely.

While elementary students played Friday, the district continued with its investigation and until it's over the girl's teacher will be on administrative leave.

All of the students leaving school today are going home with a letter. The principal wrote two. One version went home with students in the girl's class and the other with everyone else.

Parents we spoke to say the news is unsettling.

"I just hope it wakes everyone up and lets them know the importance of watching other people's children," said Tanna Webb, a J.J. Pickle parent.

"School is the second place for kids after home and they are here all day and the teachers need to pay more attention," said Sofia Jaimes, a parent. Jaimes says she was shocked when she found out what happened.

Both are grateful the girl is safe and so is Lopez, a former Marine. He says he hopes other people will do the same thing.

"I really don't think it's a big deal. I'm grateful she is safe and that's all I can ask for," Lopez said.

AISD released this statement Friday.

"AISD is conducting a thorough investigation to identify how to prevent these incidents from happening again. Any time something occurs that indicates our system is not fail-safe, we will work purposefully to identify where a breakdown occurred and correct it."

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