San Diego

Student, 8, Walks Off Campus of Bayside Elementary and Ends Up on Shoulder of I-5

The child's mom said he was embarrassed after being reprimanded in a class and wanted to go home.

There is a certain level of trust parents have when they drop their children off at school. They assume the school will not only keep their children safe, but also keep track of where they are. 

That is why when Brenda Arreola received a call that her eight-year-old son Guillermo went missing on Friday afternoon she was so shocked and upset.

“I was just thinking, 'Where is he?'” Arreola explained, “Is he safe? Is he hurt? How is it possible for a child to walk out of school?”

On Friday, January 26, Guillermo Lopez walked off the Bayside Elementary School property in Imperial Beach in an attempt to walk home. Brenda says he was embarrassed after being reprimanded in a computer class and wanted to leave school.

Guillermo opened the front gate and walked out of the main entrance which is right next door to the principal’s office.

“My child could have lost his life,” Arreola said. “I just don’t think they realize the magnitude of the whole situation.”

Guillermo walked two-and-a-half miles and ended up on Interstate 5. He continued onto the freeway because he said he was scared and didn’t know where to go.

“I prayed inside I won’t get hurt,” Guillermo said.

A good Samaritan named Justin saw Guillermo walking along the shoulder and stopped to pick him up. Although Guillermo was worried about getting in a stranger’s car, he said he didn’t know what else to do.

Justin drove Guillermo home safely.

NBC 7 reached out to the South Bay Union School District to find out how a school could have lost one of its students during school hours.

District Superintendent Katie McNamara responded with the following emailed statement:

South Bay Union School District is aware of an incident that occurred at the Bayside STEAM Academy on Friday, January 26, in which a student exited the campus during the school day. The safety and well-being of our students is our highest priority. We are currently conducting an investigation, as we do following any incident on a campus, including a review of our processes and procedures. We are grateful that the student was found safe and unharmed.

Guillermo's parents have a meeting planned with McNamara on Tuesday.

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