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ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) - A 14-month-old boy was allowed to walk away from a child care center and no one noticed he was gone for about a half an hour, his mother said.
"I was absolutely terrified," mother Tara Morgan told 24 Hour News 8 Monday. "The possibilities of what could have happened are endless. The fact that he was let outside of a back door by himself, for the amount of time that he was, is inexcusable. It's negligence, pure and simple."
It was difficult for Morgan to talk to 24 Hour News 8 about what could have happened to her son Brekken. She said the only reason she's sharing her story at all is that if something similar happened to another child and she hadn't spoken up, she would feel at least partially responsible.
The toddler's vocabulary is limited to just a few words, like 'mama' and 'dada' and 'dog.' He doesn't know his address, his parents' names or his phone number.
So, his mother said, when he was wandering around a back parking lot behind the MVP Sports Club in Rockford on October 18, there was only way he could tell the man who found him -- a doctor -- that something was wrong.
"He laid down at the doctor's feet sobbing, and that's the only way that he had of saying, 'Help me. I'm desperate. I'm terrified,'" Morgan said.
Coincidentally, that doctor happened to be Brekken's pediatrician, Morgan told 24 Hour News 8.
Morgan said Brekken only supposed to be at 'Kid's Stuff' -- the child care part of the club -- for about an hour.
From what she has been able to piece together, it appears that Brekken followed a gym instructor out a back door into a parking lot. Morgan said that the instructor had come into the child care center to pick up her own children, and didn't notice the toddler following behind her. According to what she's pieced together, Brekken apparently wandered around the parking lot alone for about half an hour.
She says no one at the child care even realized he was gone.
"A 4-year-old girl told one of the day care women working in the day care that she saw another little boy get out,"" said Morgan. "And they apparently looked for him, they didn't see him, and just assumed he came back inside, but made no attempt to make sure all of the children were accounted for."
She said that even after the doctor found her son and someone from the nearby doctor's office went to ask the child care center if they were missing any children, they said everyone was accounted for.
"They told the staff member that they had all of their children accounted for, and that my son did not come from their daycare," said Morgan.
The Rockford police were called and the child care center did finally realize that Brekken was missing.
When Morgan and her fiance, Brekken's father, later spoke to people at MVP, they told her that it was hard to keep track of all the kids in the center and that Brekken is a very active little boy.
"They just kept making excuses and almost making it sound like it wasn't their fault," Morgan said.
There were no managers at MVP Monday night available to discuss the incident. An employee said the club had no comment and asked the 24 Hour News 8 crew to leave the property.
24 Hour News 8 was directed to and called an MVP corporate representative in Florida, but received no response Monday evening.
The club did add a sign that reads "DO NOT USE THIS DOOR" on the door out of which Brekken followed the instructor. Morgan said this was a new addition since her son wandered off.
"It makes me wonder if my son had been killed or gone missing, what would they be doing? Hopefully something more than what they are now," Morgan said.
Aside from the handwritten sign on the door, Morgan said she has heard the child care has started putting name tags on the children's backs, but 24 Hour News 8 couldn't talk to anyone at the gym and could not confirm whether there were any precautions taken since the alleged incident.
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