Local News


Mother outraged her 6-year-old with Down syndrome wanders from El Cortez Elementary School

Posted at 10:06 PM, Sep 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-13 01:40:01-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A student with Down syndrome was able to wander off a Clark County School District Campus, in the middle of the school day on Wednesday.

The six-year-old goes to Manuel J. Cortez Elementary School. His mother is outraged, wondering how he could have gotten away without anyone noticing immediately.

Melissa Castro tells 13 Action News she is in disbelief that it took more than 15 minutes for “staff to notice my son was missing.”

Castro is in tears because she can't bear the thought that she almost lost her child Benjamin.

"If something would have happened to him our whole world would've crashed down," Castro says.

Castro admits Benjamin tends to wander around and has a hard time communicating what he needs, often gets frustrated and acts out.

"He has a speech delay. It's hard for him to convey what he wants so he kind of points or does signs [with his hands]."

Castro was unable to specify where exactly her son was before the incident but claims he was found by a good Samaritan on Lamb Boulevard and Tonopah Ave.

"No one went after him. That's the problem. Thankfully, a kind woman found him and returned him," Castro says.

Beatriz Raya was at the right place, at the right time. She tells 13 Action News she found the boy while she was driving in the middle of the intersection.

"Thankfully, I wasn't going that fast. I was able to stop but he literally touched my vehicle with his hands. I was yelling and wondering where he was coming from," Raya says.

Raya also adds Benjamin opened her passenger door and smiled, a clear sign that he didn't know he was in danger.

"He was out all alone. Either, if no one ran him over, he was going to be taken," Raya says.

Both Castro and Raya question how Benjamin got past staff especially when, Castro says, the school has been working with Benjamin for about a year, and are well aware of his disability.

"That doesn't make sense to me," Castro says.

“He was outside with me for about 20 minutes until someone from the school came out,” Raya says.

Castro now wants to advocate for her son and all children with disabilities.

"We need to fight for improvements in CCSD's special education program."

Meanwhile, she is forever grateful for the woman who saved her son's life.

13 Action News reached out to CCSD to ask if it was investigating the incident.

CCSD responded with this statement:

“As a class was lining up for recess Wednesday morning, a student at the front of the line ran off while a staff member was attending to other students. The staff member immediately notified other school staff and the student was located within a couple of minutes.”