CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Summer break is here for kids across our area, but when’s the last time you talked to your child about stranger-danger?
A recent creepy encounter at Carowinds has a York County mom sharing her experience, hoping it will inspire parents everywhere to have that talk with their kids.
“Over the course of three hours, we maybe saw him looking at us three times,” said Shannon Lake.
She was cooling off at Carowinds Carolina Harbor water park with her two kids and some friends on Friday, June 8. Lake said, at first, she didn’t think anything of the man. However, when she took her son to get a Powerade and left her 15-year-old daughter at the pool with her friend, the mother said the man made his move.
“As I’m walking back, I notice the same individual in the lawn chair in between the two girls,” she said.
When Lake rushed back, she said the man started to take off. That’s when she approached him and asked, "What are doing talking to my underage daughter?"
Lake said the man responded by saying, “Nothing,” and walked away.
“Once he left, I asked them, 'What was he saying?' And that’s when they informed me he was trying to get them to leave the park with him,” she said.
Lake said the man first tried to get them to leave the park, telling the girls he had a car. She says when the girls said no, he instead invited them to go into the pool with him or go and get some food. Lake said, thankfully, the girls kept saying, 'No.'
“I’m lucky enough to have a daughter that listens to me and actually takes it seriously,” said Lake.
Lake said Carowinds security was quick to respond and handled the situation quickly, escorting her to the security office where she filled out a report. The York County Sheriff’s Office said an off-duty deputy working security at the park found the man and escorted him off the property.
However, Lake said when she went to her car later that evening, she spotted the man just a few cars away -- still in the parking lot. That’s when she snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook with a warning.
“I wanted to inform everyone in the area; you know talk to your kids about this. Everybody thinks it’s this far off threat. It’s not. It’s in our backyard,” said Lake.
The post was shared more than 17,000 times and had more than 3,000 comments before Lake finally made it private. She took action because people began to victim-shame her and her daughter.
In an email sent to NBC Charlotte, Carowinds said, “On June 8, 2018, Carowinds' security immediately responded to and addressed a guest complaint reported in the water park. Safety is our highest priority and we take all concerns seriously.”
The dilemma Carowinds found itself in, however, is that it’s located in both North and South Carolina. The York County Sheriff’s Office said because the incident happened on North Carolina’s side, no police report was filed by their deputy.
“Since Carowinds fall in both S.C. and N.C., the corresponding agency will handle any case within their jurisdiction," said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police.
The chilling encounter should be a reminder that teens need to be reminded of stranger danger.
“It sounds so cliché, but those conversations really pay off in big ways. I remember it was just a couple of months ago, you had a fellow in one of our communities that was driving around in a van offering to give children money,” said Rob Tufano, CMPD Spokesperson.
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