Local News

Sep 20, 2010 10:03 PM by Ariel Wesler

Community on alert after suspicious van follows kids

Parents and staff at Harloe Elementary are extra aware tonight after two kids reported a white van following them to school Friday morning.

It happened near the intersection of South halcyon and Dodson way in Arroyo Grande. Two fifth graders reported being followed by a white van with no rear windows. They were able to get away safely, but the incident has parents and school administrators keeping a close watch on the surrounding area.

Bill Tetreault of Arroyo Grande knows first hand about these kinds of incidents. It happened to his daughter while she was walking home from Harloe Elementary last year.

"A van pulled up and tried to get her and her friend into the van, and it was a white van as well," Tetreault said. "It's different when you here about it on the news, but when it's your own child, it strikes home hard."

This time, one student said he was walking to school on Cerro Vista Circle near, Alpine street. When he stopped walking, so did the van. The boy ran down Dodson way where he met up with his friend. The two continued running down South Halcyon and the van followed.

Thankfully, the kids were thinking on their feet. They ran into the parking lot of the Arroyo Grande Community Hospital and got away.

"Make sure you have avenues of escape. Make sure you know that you can knock on a door. You can go into a business," said Harloe Elementary Principal Chuck Fiorentino.

The school has put administrators and other principals throughout the Lucia Mar Unified School District on alert.

"In case there are any other incidents, the police departments can compile the information," Fiorentino said.

He says districtwide, there are about six incidents reported per year but parents say they are stunned.

"We let her ride her bike around our streets and we take bike rides regularly and have this idea that we are safe," said Aime Wilkinson of Arroyo Grande.

While police say talking to your kids about strangers may seem repetive,

"It paid off, telling them about this all the time," Tetreault said.

And quite possibly saved his daughter's life.


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