HOT SPRINGS, Ark – A Hot Springs business is under fire weeks after a 17-year-old girl was kidnapped finishing a shift at the popular bakery.
Former employees of the Pour Some Sugar on Me Sweet Shoppe say not enough is being done to create a safe environment for workers.
“Almost losing a really close friend and almost losing, I’m going to put it bluntly, a child, like we’re done, we’re not putting up with it anymore,” said former employee Rachel Mack.
Thursday, five former employees of a popular Hot Springs bakery walk a familiar path.
“Every single day that I worked I would park here [in the garage],” said former employee Sydney Hampton.
It’s the same path a 17-year-old girl from Hot Springs took the night she was kidnapped and former employees say it wasn’t uncommon to do it alone.
“Me and my mom lost it because it could been me so many times, it could have been other girls so many times,” said former employee Braylah Erwin.
Erwin started working at the Pour Some Sugar on Me shops when she was 15 years old. She says she was given responsibilities she believes were meant for adults.
“I was closing here within 3 months before I turned 16, by myself,” said Erwin.
Other employees say shift managers were non-existent.
“We always kind of defaulted to the oldest person on shift,” said Mack.
Mack says sometimes that was her, at just 23 years old.
Sarah McCracken says she asked the owners if she could take over and help fill a shift lead style position.
“I would kind of take it upon myself to be the last one here so I could make sure all these younger kids are getting home safe,” said McCracken.
McCracken says there was no guidance from the higher-ups and hoped things would change after a teen went missing.
The owner’s sister tells our station the shop had a safety briefing after the teen returned to work. She tells us they want to reinforce the buddy system.
Former coworkers say more measures need to be taken.
“The simplest thing is having an adult on shift at all times,” said Erwin.
Our station called and emailed the owners for an additional statement. We’re told by family, the shop would not be speaking at this time.
Meanwhile the two suspects in the kidnapping case are in jail and awaiting their next court date.