Seaford resident recognized at Council meeting

By Lynn R. Parks

Seaford Police Chief Robert Kracyla was at last week's city council meeting, to recognize a woman who picked up a four-year-old boy who was standing in front of an area day-care center, crying, and took him to the police station.

"This is a feel-good story like no other," Kracyla told the council. Without the actions of Seaford resident Debra Bradford Billings, "this story could have had a whole different ending. We should recognize that kind of community service."

(Billings was not at the city council meeting. She also did not respond to requests for comment.)

The little boy who was taken to the police station is Edward Pilling III. Following the meeting, his father, Edward Jr., said that he was at work in Harrington at about 9:30 a.m. on July 10, when he received a phone call. "It was the police chief, and he said that he had Eddie," Pilling said. "I said, ÔWhat do you mean that you have him? He's at his day-care.'"

No, Kracyla responded, Eddie was fine, but he was in the police station. Pilling called Eddie's mom, Lisa, who works in Seaford and who was able to be at the station within minutes. When she got there, her son was perched on the desk of 911 emergency call center administrator Anita Bell, taking in all that was going on around him.

It turned out that Eddie had been standing in line at his daycare, waiting to board a bus that was taking the children on a field trip. (Pilling did not want to reveal the name of the day-care. The center has been very cooperative, he said.) Teachers did a head count to make sure that they had everyone, but Eddie decided to go to the bathroom after the count was done.

"They checked the locker room, they checked the lunchroom, but no one checked the bathroom," Pilling said.

When Eddie came out, all of the children had gotten on the buses and the school's doors were locked. He watched as the buses, one of which was carrying his five-year-old sister, pull out of the parking lot.

Eddie managed to get the door opened and walked outside. Of course, the door locked behind him and he couldn't get back in, his dad said.

"He was outside for a little less than 15 minutes, crying, before she picked him up," Pilling said.

This was a "very quick and scary situation," Pilling added. But Eddie seems to have recovered: "He wants to go back to the police station again." And Eddie's parents, as well as his day-care, have taken away some lessons from the situation.

First, Eddie is being taught his last name and the names of his parents. All he was able to tell Kracyla was that his name was Eddie, that his dad was called Daddy and his mom Mommy. The police chief was able to locate Eddie's parents because the child was wearing a T-shirt with the name of his day-care center on it. Even though the day-care director was on the bus with the other children when Kracyla called the center, his call was forwarded to her cell phone.

"Eddie should have known his name, and our names," Pilling said. "We just never thought about teaching him that."

As for the day-care center, it has instituted a buddy system, through which children are paired whenever they are heading out. That way, if one is missing, it is more noticeable.

"This was a very negative situation, but it had a positive ending," Pilling said. "But we have all learned a lot. And I am so glad that Debra Billings found him. It's good to know that there are good people in the world."

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