Authorities say a 5-year-old girl who went missing from Ellen Smith Elementary School around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday was found safe at the Boys and Girls Club around 5:30 p.m. and was returned to her home by police.
Conway Superintendent Greg Murry said the girl, identified as Ava Osborn, got on the wrong bus at the end of the school day and ended up at the club's Deer Street location. The girl was discovered by an employee of the center playing inside of the facility.
When asked, Murry said he couldn't say whether any similar incidents had previously occurred this school year.
"There may have been other children who went home with a friend or walked home," Murry said. "This is the only one that’s lasted this long (without finding them)."
The girl's mother contacted police around 4 p.m. when the girl didn't arrive at her residence.
The incident occurred on the tails of a similar event at another Conway elementary school last week.
Lori Hooten, the mother a 5-year-old special needs student at Theodore Jones Elementary School, reported that her son, who is a car rider, was found on Sept. 28 walking near the Unemployment Department on North Museum Road after he wandered from the school's campus around 3:15 p.m. at the end of the school day.
The father of the child was reportedly told by school officials his son had walked home, according to news reports and an email from the boy's mother.
The boy was found by an observant parent walking down the road and through traffic a few hundred yards away from the school's campus, asking directions to his home.
Officials reportedly did not contact authorities following the incident, and Hooten said she has since removed her son from the school.
The Department of Human Services is investigating the incident.
Murry said at the end of the school day there are lots of precautions in place to ensure that children make it home safely, but that these incidents "happen occasionally in all schools."
“We will always review the circumstances after a situation like this and make sure we are doing everything we can,” Murry said.