South Kingstown student approached by man in van

By: News Staff

Reporting By: Rebecca Turco

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Parents, teachers and students are asked to be extra cautious as police investigate a report of a man attempting to pick up an elementary school student.

According to an email alert sent to all parents Thursday afternoon, a student at one of the elementary schools in town reported being approached by a man in a black van while walking home from school on Wednesday.

The student said the suspect was a white man in his mid-50’s with scruffy facial hair, driving a black van with tinted windows. It happened in the vicinity of Highland Avenue and High Street. The student refused a ride home from the suspect, and there was no further incident.

Parents in the area are still wrapping their heads around it all. "I was kind of horrified cause that’s right down the street from our bus stop," mother Stephanie White told ABC6 News. "It’s the worst possible thing that you can think of, that there’s some predator our there just looking to pick up a kid, and it could be one of your kids. It’s so close to home."

Colleen Chappell, a Curtis Corner Middle School teacher who lives nearby where the incident happened, plans on talking with her students about stranger safety. "As they say, it takes a village to raise children," Chappell explained.

White is also using what happened as a teaching moment for her two young sons, and she will be watching over them extra carefully now. "I hope that it gets resolved," she said. "They [police] find out who this person is and what their intention was and the situation gets taken care of [so] everybody can just feel safe again."

South Kingstown Police have ramped up patrols and are investigating the report, and have also notified area departments including Charlestown, Narragansett, and North Kingstown.

Anyone with information is asked to contact South Kingstown Police at 401-783-3321.

(C) WLNE-TV 2015