Police Identify Toddler Found in Forsyth Park - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/06/05

Police Identify Toddler Found in Forsyth Park

Police identified the girl as three and a half year old Kiara Davis. Police identified the girl as three and a half year old Kiara Davis.

Three and a half year old Kiara Davis was calmly eating potato chips, walking towards Whitaker Street, when resident Kelly Crumley spotted her. After searching for Kiara's parents, Crumley called Savannah Chatham Police.

Investigators handed out Kiara's picture to the media, hoping someone would identify her. Someone did. A viewer recognized Kiara as a possible child in the Gabriel House, a foster home in Hinesville. They were right.

A ward of the state, Kiara Davis was on a field trip with over thirty kids and at least seven adults from the home. The group went to Chuck E. Cheese, and Star Castle Arcade. They had just stopped to play in Forsyth Park before going to dinner at Ryan's Steakhouse. That's when police said the trouble began. "At Forsyth Park they{ employees from Gabriel's House}left the girl. Everyone got on the bus and left. Why no one did a head-count at Ryan's Steakhouse is still a mystery," said Sergeant Robert VonLoewenfeldt.

In fact, Kiara's disappearance wasn't noted until they were in Liberty County. " When they got back to Hinesville, everyone came off the bus. The employee did a head-count, knew they were one child short, and noted it on her log. But I don't think she asked the bus driver, where is Kiara?" questioned Sergeant VonLoewenfeldt.

Sergeant Vonloewenfeldt said it was over six hours before anyone realized Kiara was gone. "It wasn't until the Hinesville officers knocked on the door, woke them up, and asked where's the kids? did they realize she was missing."

Never once did any employee from the Gabriel House call police and notify them that one of the children was gone. State guidelines say there should be one counselor for every four kids. Those counselors must constantly make sure the children are in their care. "You always take a head count, when you get on the bus, on the bus, when you get to the field trip, when you get back on the bus, and when you get back to the agency," exclaimed independent Counselor, Ali Whitaker, " It's so you know how many kids you have....and knowing you have the same amount you left with." Ms. Whitaker is not involved with this case.

These guidelines failed Kiara Davis. Something that doesn't sit well with Sergeant VonLoewenfeldt. "Here we are, agencies supposed to protect her, the State of Georgia, and we lose her. We don't notice she's gone for six to eight hours....that's terrible."

We did call the Gabriel House. They said they will not comment on the incident. Kiara is in the custody of the Chatham County Department and Family Child Services. On Monday, she will be transferred to the Liberty County DFCAS center.

Kiara also has a twin brother, John, who was also on the field trip Saturday. He is still in custody at the Gabriel House.

Reported by: Melanie A. Ruberti; mruberti@wtoc.com

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