By Tania Martin
AN EMERALD autistic girl has had a lucky escape after she was found wandering the streets.
Jayde Matthews, 5, was left stranded in the middle of a busy road surrounded by five cars after an early-morning escapade.
She had escaped from the backyard of her Emerald home, 1.5 kilometres away.
But it’s not the first time it has happened.
Jayde’s mother, Kirsty said it was lucky that the motorists had realised that it wasn’t normal to see a little girl wandering the streets at 7.45am.
She expressed her heartfelt thanks for those strangers who stopped to help.
Ms Matthews said it all started on Wednesday 24 February when Jayde made her first escape attempt.
“We were outside playing in the garden and I came inside to put the children’s dinner in the oven and was gone all of three minutes,” she said. “When I came back outside Jayde was gone.”
Ms Matthews started searching frantically for her little “Houdini”.
“I doubled-checked that she wasn’t hiding and that she hadn’t come inside to hide,” she said. “I had come back inside to call the police and a lady who had helped us previously knocked on the door and said Jayde was down the street.”
Ms Matthews said Jayde had not only climbed the fence but had gone 10 houses down the street and climbed a two-storey balcony and went into a house through a sliding door.
“At that stage we didn’t know how she had got out because all the gates, doors and the front door were locked,” she said. “We decided she would stay inside until we could deal with the problem on the weekend.”
But two days later Jayde did it all again.
Ms Matthews said her daughter had been helping her hang out the washing soon after 7.30am.
She had gone inside after hearing a cry from one of her other children.
“ I didn’t even think, I just went to see who had fallen down and 30 seconds later Jayde had gone over the gate and was 1.5 kilometres down the road,” Ms Matthews said.
She found Jayde in the middle of the road on the corner of Westlands Road and Boundary Road West surrounded by five cars.
“I don’t know who they are but I just want to say thank you for stopping and helping her … for not judging, because that happens a lot,” Ms Matthews said. “I am so grateful they realised she had a disability and that obviously she didn’t belong in the middle of the road at 7.45 in the morning.”
Ms Matthews said it was absolutely “heart stopping” to find your child gone.
“I held it together until I dropped the kids at school and then fell in a heap … to know she is gone and you can’t see her from the house is unthinkable,” she said.
The Matthews have since discovered Jayde’s escape route.
She has been climbing up the support struts on their wooden six-foot picket fence.
They have now turned the gate around but are planning on getting a new fence to prevent any future disappearing acts.
“She’s not allowed outside until we can replace the fence,” Ms Matthews said.
This was not the first time Jayde escaped and it’s not expected to be the last.
But Emerald Police are aware of the issue and have a photograph of Jayde. If anyone finds her in the midst of another escape attempt they should contact police on 5968 4422.
By Tania Martin