Missing child: School officials have no answers

Reporter: Lindsay Cohen

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (Fox 29) - The Palm Beach County School District is investigating an incident where a 4-year-old autistic girl went missing for hours.

"I think my heart stopped," said Elle Dillon, the girl's mother. "[It was] just a feeling that I never want anybody to ever feel. It's indescribable panic."

Dillon says she was thrown into a panic when she went to pick up her daughter, Taris, at a daycare center in West Palm Beach around 5 pm Monday afternoon. Daycare workers told her the child wasn't there.

Taris, who has mild autism, was supposed to be taken on a school bus from her summer program at Dwight Eisenhower Elementary School in Palm Beach Gardens to a daycare in West Palm Beach.

Dillon believes Taris, who has limited speech skills, was probably put on the wrong bus and never made it to her destination. What Dillon doesn't know is where her daughter was in the four hour gap between when the school program let out and when she was discovered missing.

"These kids can't communicate. They can't tell you where they were. They can't tell you, you know, if they were hurt," Dillon said.

Dillon was able to figure out that Taris was at a school transportation hub after checking messages on her home answering machine. She says her biggest disappointment lies with school officials, who still haven't been able to tell her what happened.

"[The] Palm Beach County school [district] is aware of the incident involving this child and a school bus," said district spokesman Nat Harrington. "It is under review to find out exactly what happened and why. We will talk with the parent when we have more of the answers."

But Dillon says the lag time in getting those answers is unacceptable.

"I'm extremely frustrated," Dillon said. "I want to know what happened and where my daughter was and what went on, and I hope that no parent ever has to go through this."