Missing 5-year-old from Waterbury reunited with his family - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Missing 5-year-old from Waterbury reunited with his family

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Jealijah Del Gado went missing on Thursday night, but was quickly located with the help of social media. (Facebook) Jealijah Del Gado went missing on Thursday night, but was quickly located with the help of social media. (Facebook)
WATERBURY, CT (WFSB) -

A missing 5-year-old, who did not return to his Waterbury home after school, was located on Thursday night, police said.

Jeanette Pena said her son Jelijah started his first day of Driggs Elementary on Thursday. However, his family said he did not return home on time.

"I didn't know what to think," Pena said. "I wasn't sure, if somebody snatched him." 

Around 4:30 p.m., officers were notified about Jelijah's disappearance when he did not get dropped off at his scheduled spot.

A massive search took place with more than a dozen officers and a small army of family and friends. A silver alert was issued and friends and family took to social media to inform news outlets and residents. 

Police said Jelijah was located on Lincoln Street in the Overlook section of Waterbury. Police said he was reunited with his parents in the Robinwood neighborhood around 8 p.m. 

“It was determined that today was the first day for this family at a new school and taking the bus making it an unfamiliar process for all,” police said.

But moments after the emotional reunion Pena said her anger returned and she feels the bus company dropped the ball.

"They need to figure out what they're doing wrong. Go over protocols with their bus drivers cause if it's they're child they wouldn't want to go through this whether it's for two hours or a lifetime," Pena said.  

Pena said the bus driver failed to follow safety guidelines.

"The parent is supposed to be there for any student from kindergarten to third grade," Pena said. "They didn't realize that he was getting off on the wrong stop, which is something the bus driver is supposed to be paying attention to."  

Jelijah told his friends grandmother he didn't know his mom's phone number, so she decided to wait until another relative came home. Instead, police arrived to help make the reunion possible.

"[He] always wants to be next to his mama that's all," Pena said.  

Now, Jelijah will be next to his mama whenever she can help it. The family still wants answers about what happened. 

"He's not taking the Waterbury school buses anymore," Pena said. 

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