Missing special needs student found 26 miles from Miami Gardens school

MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. (WSVN) - A special needs student was found miles away from his school after he managed to leave campus, Tuesday.

Seventeen-year-old Kenel Metayer is diagnosed with autism and schizophrenia and needs to be supervised at all times.

“He may look like an adult because he is 17, but he has the mind of an 8-year-old,” said Kenel’s mother Linda Metayer.

Kenel is a student at the Robert Renick Education Center, a school for special needs students in Miami Gardens where the students are supposed to be closely supervised.

Still, Kenel managed to leave the school on his own Tuesday.

Linda said her son walked out of a back door in between classes.

“I came to the school. There was all these police and a dog to sniff his clothes and stuff like that,” said Linda.

Hours went by, and Kenel’s family panicked because he can’t communicate well.

“I almost passed out … because I thought he was dead,” said Kenel’s grandmother Denise Metayer.

While police searched, Kenel managed to cross major roads, get on a county bus and even the Metrorail — all without any money.

“Mommy was worried about me,” said Kenel. “I was a little bit scared. She was worried about me, yeah.”

He ended up at the Japanese restaurant Akashi, in South Miami, 26 miles away from the school. The restaurant owner inside spotted him and knew something was wrong.

“I asked my server to keep him company, give him more water, offer him chocolate, so he can stay put until the police came,” said Akashi owner Barbara Quach.

“I just want to say thank you that you guys were quite nice to my son,” said Linda.

Kenel’s mom and grandma are grateful to the restaurant owner but also angry with the school, saying the staff needs to pay better attention.

“It makes me emotional because I never would have thought the school doesn’t have enough supervision,” said Linda. “If the whole building has special needs students, that is something real serious they have to do.”

The Miami-Dade County School District said in a statement, “The safety and security of every student are priorities of this school district, and incidents like the one reported are taken very seriously. It will be investigated thoroughly, to help prevent any future occurrence.”

Kenel’s family said he is a wanderer and walked away from church last year, prompting a police bulletin.

Linda didn’t let her son go back to school on Wednesday because she is still nervous. She said Kenel will not be back at school until she sees what happens with the district’s investigation.

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