Children found wandering alone in separate incidents, but all ends well
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Two toddlers were found alone and on the street Tuesday in separate, unrelated incidents.
The parents or guardians were found in each case and the toddlers were safely returned with no charges expected to be filed. But police say the incidents serve as reminders that during the summer months, young children need to be watched closely.
"It doesn't take a whole lot for them to get into trouble," said Centerville Assistant Police Chief Paul Child.
In the first case, police believe "horrible miscommunication" led to an unattended 2-year-old boy wandering near a busy street on Tuesday morning.
The boy was spotted walking on a grassy park strip along Fort Union Boulevard near 2100 East about 7:30 a.m. He did not have shoes. He was wearing a T-shirt with the words "My mommy loves me" and shorts. A motorist stopped to tend to the child and then called police. After four hours of searching, police had not found the parents and no one called to report a child missing.
The boy was in good condition and healthy when he was found, said Cottonwood Heights Police Sgt. Gary Young.
After local television stations aired the boy's story on noon newscasts, a family member called police. Detectives learned the boy and his mother had apparently moved into a home about four houses away from where the toddler was found, just a month ago. They were living with another family.
The mother started a new job Tuesday morning and had arranged for the other family to watch her son, Young said. She left the house about 7:30 a.m. to go to work without saying goodbye to anyone, he said. Her son got up almost immediately after her and also went out the door.
When the other family woke up and could not find the child, they assumed the mother had found another baby sitter or dropped the boy off with a relative, Young said.
Young said he did not expect potential criminal charges to be screened.
Less than an hour after the mother was found, Centerville police announced two women had found a 3-year-old child walking alone near 400 West and 830 North wearing a blue basketball jersey and shorts.
The boy's grandmother called police less than 30 minutes later to report the boy missing. The toddler's grandmother was alone watching the boy and several other children.
"She got distracted, and, during that time, the 3-year-old wandered off," Child said. "There was no gross negligence."
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