Parents of child with autism asking how son wandered away from Jefferson County daycare

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. ( – Working parents Mike Queener and Danielle Mankunas know the importance of a quality daycare. The two have trusted Parkton Child Care Center with their 3-year-old son Grayson for almost a year.

“Grayson with his autism spectrum, he is non-verbal so he cannot communicate to you what his needs are,” Mankunas said.

However, one day last month when they picked Grayson up, they could sense something wasn’t right. The couple said the daycare hosted a bounce house and petting zoo event on September 27; but it wasn’t until the following Monday that they found out what happened to their son during the event.

“You hear your child got away, but it wasn’t that big of a deal how they played it,” Queener said.

Queener said the daycare told him Grayson escaped from a bounce house and wandered a few feet into a neighboring parking lot. The daycare told him his son was gone for no more two minutes before a volunteer brought him back.

He said he called the state to report the incident, since nothing was on file with the daycare. When he spoke with state officials, he says he learned what really happened.

“That in and of itself is just a very terrifying thing,” Queener said.

Queener said the state told him a driver spotted Grayson nearing the highway, about 50 yards from the bounce house. The Good Samaritan circled off the main road and brought Grayson back to a teacher.

“Two feet walking into the parking lot is one thing, but being up closer to the highway near the ravine just broke my heart,” Mankunas said.

The couple said the driver originally called the state to inform officials of what they witnessed. They said the daycare has given them no reason for the discrepancy in stories. They pulled their child out of the daycare the Monday after the bounce house event.

News 4 went to the daycare to get answers but was told “no comment.” State officials say they are investigating the matter.