A Middletown mother was issued a warning by police this week after her 3-year-old son was found wandering outside alone in the cold, wearing only a diaper and a T-shirt.
Middletown police Sgt. Andy Warrick said the toddler’s mother, Kayla Mendenhall, 22, went to a nearby gas station around noon Wednesday and didn’t realize her son had left their apartment in the 1500 block of Jackson Lane. A neighbor, Bryan Baker, found the boy who had been wandering around for approximately 10 minutes with no other adults anywhere around.
Baker said the toddler, wearing only a diaper and T-shirt, was running barefoot in the snow and ice covered street and was nearly hit by two cars.
“He was running up and down the street trying to find his mother,” Baker said. “It was scary… There were cars coming down the road, back and forth, and the little guy was hysterical trying to find his mother.”
Baker said his 17-year-old grandson was the first to see the child. He said they tried to pick up the toddler, but he was too afraid of them.
“Eventually I got a hold of him,” Baker said. “I grabbed a blanket and wrapped him up.”
The noontime temperature on Wednesday — the same day a major snow and ice storm hit the region — was 25 degrees, but the wind chill made it feel more like 14 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington.
Officers issued a warning to Mendenhall and told her if there were any other complaints involving child neglect, she could be cited. Warrick said Mendenhall was not arrested because she had no prior contact with police or social services.
“It’s up to the officer’s discretion,” Warrick said. The toddler “had followed her out the door. She believed her boyfriend was watching the child. He may have stayed outside and gotten lost.”
“This is proof that there has to be very good communication between the mother and father,” he said. “Three-year-olds, two-year-olds are very energetic. You need to know exactly where they’re at all the time.”
According to a police report, officers discovered there was no running water inside Mendenhall’s apartment. She told them she had been at her apartment for only six days and was in the process of making a deposit for the water. Officers advised Mendenhall that she needed to “get water as soon as possible, and that it could be grounds for the child to be removed from the residence.”
Warrick and Baker did not know if the child suffered from frostbite, but Baker said he’s just glad he was there to help.
“I don’t know if I saved his life, but I know I got the little guy out of the cold,” Baker said. “I saved his toes.”
By Lot Tan - Journal-News, Hamilton, Ohio (MCT)
©2014 the Journal-News (Hamilton, Ohio)
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