Empathetic mom helps lost child find way back to South Korea base
July 12, 2008
Krista Bailey, 4, couldn’t wait to go to school for the first time.
She thought about what to do …
Mommy says to get to school, I get on the school bus.
Mommy is in the shower. I’m going outside. I can find the school bus myself.
Krista walked outside the Camp Red Cloud barracks and blended in with a group of people leaving the base. When the light turned green, she crossed the street.
She saw a bright bus with children painted on the side, but the bus driver said she couldn’t board.
So Krista took the next bus — Uijeongbu city bus No. 23.
It was scary. After a while, Krista cried.
"I tried," Krista, now 5, said Thursday before turning back to her father, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Bailey.
Krista and her parents joined military police officers at the Ganeung substation Thursday to thank Uijeongbu city police officers and resident Im Su-jung for their efforts in finding Krista and bringing her home March 28.
Im was riding the bus home when she heard Krista yelling, "I want to go school."
She approached, but Krista said she wanted to be left alone.
Krista knows she’s not supposed to talk to strangers.
But Im wasn’t about to abandon a crying little blonde girl who doesn’t speak any Korean.
"I have a little girl like Krista," Im said. "As a mom, I just wanted to help her."
Meanwhile, back at Camp Red Cloud, Michael and Danialle Bailey searched frantically for their daughter.
"My flip-out mother reaction … was that she was kidnapped and they’re going to sell my kid," Danialle Bailey said.
Around 2:45 p.m., Michael Bailey called the military police, who ordered searches of all vehicles leaving the base.
Speakers throughout Camp Red Cloud announced that a 4-year-old girl wearing a pink jacket, blue jeans and white shoes was missing. Soon after, Michael Bailey received a call from a friend who said Krista was seen walking off post.
By 3:40 p.m., military police investigator Yun Sok-kwan notified Uijeongbu police inspector Cho Yong-tae that Krista was missing.
A few minutes later, patrol cars were looking for her all around Uijeongbu, a city of about 400,000 people, though they concentrated on the downtown and base areas.
At 4:10 p.m., Im phoned the police after getting off at the next stop. A patrol car in the neighborhood arrived soon after and took Krista back to her parents.
Military police asked Krista for a statement. She drew them a picture of the other people on the "school bus."
Military police said the South Korean gate guards wouldn’t have noticed anything unusual when Krista exited through the main indoor pedestrian gate.
"She walked through, but with other adults," said Provost Marshal’s office Sgt. Maj. Russell Orlowitz. "They probably assumed she was with somebody."
Danialle Bailey said she would have thought the same thing. She thanked the police Thursday for their help in ending her worst nightmare and hugged Im.
"We were so relieved," she said.