07/09/2019 UPDATE: Police confirmed on Tuesday that a reported abduction attempt at Hersheypark did not actually take place, refuting a witness’ account.
Sherry Webb, who was supervising five young people at the park, claimed that a woman tried to separate a young boy from the group and took him by the arm, intending to walk away with him on Wednesday. Webb later called out theme park staff for inaction on Facebook.
Derry Township Police Department’s Chief of Police Garth Warner tells Yahoo Lifestyle that Webb her the group likely misinterpreted the situation.
“From information the juveniles relayed to us and the actions on the video, it was determined the incident was more likely a case of confusion on the part of the juveniles and the female who was interacting with the juveniles was doing so in what would appear to be an innocent manner,” Warner said in a statement.
Police reviewed the surveillance footage of the alleged incident, which showed that the accused woman is her late teens. The teen, who has not yet been identified, seemed to be “enjoying a normal day in the water park without incident or any behavior deemed inappropriate or unusual.”
A woman says a theme park “dropped the ball” and did not act appropriately in response to a possible child abduction case on its premises.
Sherry Webb was supervising a trip on Wednesday to Hersheypark — a family theme park located in Hershey, Pa.— when a young boy under her care was targeted by a woman who allegedly tried to separate him from his group, and later took him by the arm, intending to walk off with him. In a Facebook post, Webb wrote that the child is the son of a local police chief, Anthony Minium, who is a close friend.
Webb shared a letter she sent to Hersheypark about the incident on Facebook, calling out employees for their lack of action and regard for a serious situation, and described the events that unfolded.
According to the post, the woman, accused by Webb, tried to single out the boy from his group of five other young people in the “Water Works” slide area at the park.
“She was waiting for the boy when he came down the slide and then attempted to walk away with him telling him that he would have fun on the slide in another area of the water park,” Webb wrote. “My daughter told her ‘no, he needs to stay with our group’ and a second later the woman grabbed his arm and tried to walk off with him.”
The woman then recounted that staff was unhelpful and an employee working at the “Water Works” entrance didn’t even offer to call security for her.
“She literally just stared at me and did not respond at all,” Webb wrote in her post. “I finally asked her if we could talk to security. She replied that ‘yes, you could find security’ but never offered to use the radio on her shoulder to call them!”
According to the post, this wasn’t the only unhelpful employee the group dealt with. Webb wrote that after seeking help from a woman from the maintenance department and a manager at Nathan’s in the theme park to no avail, they finally went to the first aid building, where it took speaking “very strongly” for them to take action.
In addition to this, while Webb wrote that once she did meet with security, she wanted them to immediately call local enforcement, Derry Township Police, which they refused to do.
“I don’t understand the reluctance to call the Derry Township Police as it seems to me that when a crime is attempted the logical thing to do would be to involve the local police,” the post says.
Quinn Bryner, a spokesperson for Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that security contacted the police department as soon as they completed an initial investigation.
“Our Security staff responded and the full-time security officer immediately began his investigation. We then called and coordinated with our partners at the Derry Township Police Department once they arrived on property,” Bryner says. “Part of this initial investigation included a complete review of the video recording of the area of concern. We continue to assist DTPD with the ongoing investigation and are never hesitant to involve our partners at DTPD after our initial investigation, as we did in this instance.”
In her letter, Webb wrote that she wants the theme park to take steps to “ensure proper staff training for future crisis/emergency situations.” It is unclear whether the theme park responded to her directly, and she could not immediately be reached by Yahoo Lifestyle for comment.
Bryner tells Yahoo Lifestyle that Hersheypark already has safety procedures in place, but will look into guest response.
“We will be reviewing the training that each Hersheypark employee receives at every level and every location in the park to ensure efficient guest response to any concern,” says Bryner. “We are committed to refocusing on and reemphasizing the proper communication and safety procedures we already have in place.”
According to a statement provided by Derry Township Police Department’s Chief of Police, Garth Warner, police are working on the incident with Hersheypark security and the people who reported it, but as of now, they have “not been able to conclude that an attempted abduction occurred.”
Webb was not the only one unhappy with Hersheypark’s response. The boy’s father, the Steelton Borough police chief, told Penn Live that the park’s security team delayed turning over surveillance to the police. The chief believes that the theme park definitely needs to take steps to make sure they’re equipped to deal with such situations in the future.
“Honestly,” he said to Penn Live, “policies and procedures have to be adjusted.”
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