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Ickes: Little girl lost in '07 has questions as adult
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Ickes: Little girl lost in '07 has questions as adult

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Kaydee Scott

Kaydee Scott was 5 when she was found walking in below freezing temperatures near U.S. 61 and I-280 in 2007.

Kaydee Scott was only 5 years old when her school-bus driver made a life-threatening mistake.

Her teacher at Buffalo Elementary was out that day, and Kaydee got on the wrong bus. The driver knew where she lived in Davenport and took her there, but she didn't want to get off the bus.

She said she was going to spend the night with a friend, so the driver took the word of a 5-year-old and dropped her off at a mobile home near Lake Canyada — in February.

There, the kindergartener was turned away.

Kaydee didn't know how to find her house, which was 3 miles from the trailer park. So the child set out in below-freezing temperatures — no gloves or hat — and started walking. And walking. 

Today, that little girl is 20 years old and grew up hearing bits-and-pieces of the tale from her parents, Randy and Missy.

She sent this email the day after Christmas:

"Hello. I don’t know the odds of a response, but you wrote an article about me 15 years ago called, 'Mercifully, little girl is home'. I would love to talk to you about that.

"I was so young, my memories are very suppressed on it, and I just would like to know more about it. Please email when you can."

Though I recalled practically nothing of the story that wasn't contained in the March 2007 column, I responded that I'd be happy to speak with Kaydee. Maybe she could give us an idea of how such an event impacts some children in the long run.

She remembers very little about the day she knocked on her friend's door and was told she couldn't come in. And she has only a vague recollection of the second bus driver, who saw her walking near U.S. 61 and Interstate 280 more than an hour later and quite possibly saved her life.

"I have some dim memories," she said in a phone call this week from Des Moines, where she now lives and works. "I remember that my friend was of color, and her mom was, too. I remember that she was a large woman in a messy trailer."

The identity of the woman who turned Kaydee away never was disclosed. The bus company and school district refused to give her parents the address of the exact home where she was dropped off, which her dad later relented probably was best. He was angry and upset, and an encounter could have gone badly.

“When she got home, her teeth were chattering, and she had wet her pants,” Randy Scott said after the ordeal. “I realize this woman wasn’t responsible for my daughter, but any responsible adult would say, ‘Honey, where do you live?’ ”

Kaydee also has practically no memory of the long walk in the cold.

"I've had dreams about it growing up," she said. "I just dream that I'm walking down the road and a bus picks me up."

While the initial driver was suspended from First Student Inc., Kaydee's parents pushed for special recognition of the second driver, who spotted the girl and rescued her from the road, the elements and who-knows-what.

"I'd probably be more traumatized if I remembered more," she said. "I knew a little bit from my parents, but they weren't eager to talk about it, naturally.

"I didn't get the luxury of walking to school with my friends. My parents didn't really allow me to walk anywhere until I was 18."

(Makes sense.)

"I never dwelled on it until I found out there was an article about it. I found it just before Christmas," she said. "It was a little bit of a surreal feeling, reading it. It's like a story book with you as the character.

"It's something in the movies, not you."

And what about long-term impact?

"It didn't affect me in a traumatizing way," she said. "I'm more intrigued by it. I find that things that challenged me when I was a child now motivate me."

In other words, her life went on. As an adult, she's sorting out how it impacted her, if at all.

For those of us who imagined something worse: Thanks, Kaydee.

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