HORRIFIED: 11-year-old Bradley Cole with his mum Sarah Dalby.
SEVERELY autistic schoolboy Bradley Cole sparked a frantic search when he disappeared on a shopping trip with carers.
Education bosses have apologised to Bradley's family after the 11-year-old walked through a busy car park and crossed a main road before ending up near an icy lake on his own.
Bradley, from Witcombe near Gloucester, vanished from Tesco in Stroud. Luckily he was found safe and well in nearby Stratford Park a short time afterwards.
But his deeply worried mum and dad have highlighted the incident to warn other parents.
Bradley was being looked after by the Hartwood centre in Stroud at the time.
His mum Sarah Dalby said: "He won't go back there again. They've done good things with him, like with his health and hygiene. But it was a mistake that shouldn't have happened.
"There are other children there. I want to raise the alarm to their parents that something went wrong."
The 34-year-old added: "Bradley is severely autistic. He doesn't speak. He gets very anxious. He has no fear of anything."
Ms Dalby said she was horrified when she learned that Bradley must have walked alone through Tesco's car park, crossed a main road and ended up in the park near an icy lake.
Hartwood had been providing respite care one weekend a month for Bradley's parents, who are his full-time carers, to take a break. The home is owned and run by Gloucestershire County Council's Children's and Young People's Directorate, whose director of operational services Moira Swann said Bradley's absence was an isolated incident.
She said: "We have apologised to the family for any distress this incident caused. It was upsetting for everyone involved but thankfully was resolved quickly and without any harm to the child."
Ms Swann said risk assessments were carried out and all procedures were followed when Bradley vanished on Saturday.
She said: "The police were alerted immediately and efforts were made to get in touch with the boy's parents.
"We would like to reassure all parents that this was an isolated incident and Hartwood House continues to provide high quality respite care for children."
A spokeswoman for Gloucestershire Police said they were alerted of Bradley's disappearance at 1.02pm. "He was found by 1.07pm and had probably been missing for perhaps 10 minutes," she said. Bradley, a pupil at Milestone Special School in Gloucester, lives at home with his mum, dad Duncan Cole, 33, and two brothers.