No charges filed after 2-year-old found wandering alone
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston Police officers have not filed charges in the case of a 2-year-old who was wandering around a West Side shopping center early Friday morning.
The toddler was found about 6:15 a.m. in the Kmart parking lot on Patrick Street, said Lt. Steve Cooper, a spokesman for the Charleston Police Department.
The boy's uncle was watching the child because his legal guardian, the grandmother, was hospitalized Thursday night, Cooper said.
The uncle placed the boy in bed for the night and then locked the door to the house, he said. The uncle then went to sleep as well.
"He took reasonable steps to secure the child," Cooper said.
However, the only lock on the door was the one on the doorknob, which the child could reach, he said.
The child unlocked the door sometime this morning and wandered down the street to the parking lot, Cooper said. The uncle lives a short distance from Kmart on Patrick Street.
However, the child had to walk across the train tracks that bisect Patrick Street to get to there, Cooper said.
"We're very relieved the child is OK," he said.
The toddler was able to direct police officers to his uncle's house. The officers woke the uncle, who did not know the child had left the home.
The man was sober and alert when officers awoke him, Cooper said.
Officers have opted not to charge the man because there does not appear to be any "willful" neglect, he said. The child was not injured.
He has been handed over to another uncle who has a "better living situation," Cooper said.
Officers have attempted to contact the child's mother, but have been unsuccessful. Cooper was unsure if the mother even knew about the child's situation. Child Protective Services and the Charleston Police investigated the case.