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Regan Preston wandered from Punavai o le Atamai Pre-School yesterday morning, crossed Macandrew Rd and walked down the street to a Veggie Boys store, about 100m away, his mother Vicky Preston says.
She was told of the incident by the preschool about 10.10am.
''I have been in tears pretty much all day. The possible outcomes could have been horrific.''
Sarina de Boer said she spotted Regan about 9.15am as he was about ''to run back across Macandrew Rd''.
''There was no-one looking for him. There was no-one to be seen,'' she said.
''It was just lucky that I got him. It could have been disastrous.''
Mrs Preston said she was grateful to Mrs de Boer, but was ''disgusted'' with the preschool as she was told by staff that Regan was found in the car park next door and she had heard second-hand of him crossing Macandrew Rd.
''Thank God he wasn't hurt,'' she said.
''It was almost 40 minutes they didn't know he was missing.''
Multiple attempts by the Otago Daily Times to contact the preschool were unsuccessful.
Mrs Preston said the preschool's staff had been apologetic but she was still upset.
She had taken Regan out of the preschool and was looking for another for him, she said.
Meanwhile, it was a great escape for a another Dunedin toddler yesterday.
Police were called to a Mornington property, after a resident found a 13-month-old girl wandering the street about 4pm.
Senior Sergeant Brian Benn, of Dunedin, said police looked after the toddler until they tracked down her caregiver, who ‘‘was very embarrassed and apologetic''.
The caregiver had put the girl down for a nap before having a sleep herself, but unbeknown to her, the toddler ‘‘managed to get out the door and out on to the street''.