ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A 4-year-old boy with special needs apparently left his parents’ motel room in the pre-dawn hours Friday and wandered onto a nearby road where he was struck and killed by a passing van, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
The driver told troopers that the section of the road in Orlando was very dark just after 2 a.m. Sgt. Kim Montes said the 56-year-old driver stopped when he felt the van hit something and found the child.
Arriving troopers found the boy wearing mismatched shoes and a T-shirt. They followed tiny footprints in the dirt to a nearby Extended Stay America motel, Montes said. The troopers noticed a side door cracked open and went inside, finding a motel room door that was not completely shut.
The troopers knocked on the door, awakening the parents who “had no idea” the boy had left the room, she said. Emergency crews were called to treat the emotionally distraught parents.
The couple told investigators they flipped the top lock latch on the door and went to bed around 11 p.m. According to Montes, it appears the child pushed a chair to the door and unlocked the door.
Montes told news outlets that the family is from Brooklyn, New York, but the father is originally from Orlando and they were staying at the motel while looking for a home to buy in the area.
This story has been edited to say that the family was from New York but in Florida to look for a home in the Orlando area.