RALEIGH, NC – Police searched through Tuesday evening for the parent of a 5-year-old kindergartener who was stuck on a school bus because no adult was at his stop, and the search led to his mother’s arrest about 11 p.m. on charges that she had left four other children alone in their apartment.
Sarai Flores-Lechuga, 29, was arrested at her apartment on Calumet Drive about 11:15 p.m.
That was where police found her after trying for more than four hours. Wake County schools transportation officials had called police about 6:50 p.m. because there was no parent or guardian to meet the student at his bus stop after school. District policy forbids drivers to leave kindergarten, first-grade or second-grade students alone.
The driver kept the student on the bus and, after talking with a supervisor, went back to one of the district’s bus depots at 1551 Rock Quarry Road.
According to arrest warrants, Flores-Lechuga left an 8-year-old girl and 1-year-old, 3-year-old and 5-year-old boys alone in the apartment for more than six hours.
The charges in arrest warrants used statutory language that says that by leaving a child under 16 alone, Flores-Lechuga “did … create and allow a substantial risk of physical injury upon that child by other than accidental means.”
There was no indication the children were hurt while they were home alone, however.
It was not clear why the one 5-year-old was at school and the other was at home.
Family and the county’s Child Protective Services office found accommodations for the children overnight, police spokeswoman Laura Hourigan said.
Flores-Lechuga was held overnight in the Wake County Detention Center on $5,000 bail.
Police said they were still trying to determine where Flores-Lechuga had been during the evening.
Records showed she also was charged with failing to appear in court on a previous charge of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile, but it was not clear when or where that charge originated.