The mother of a 4-year-old girl was charged Wednesday after the child wandered away from her Augusta home during a storm and made her way to a Western Avenue convenience store.
The mother, 40, who thought the girl was in another part of the house and didn’t report her missing during the 30 minutes the child was gone, was issued a summons by police charging her with endangering the welfare of a child and a report was made to the Department of Health and Human Services. Police did not release her name or the address of the family.
Augusta Police Lt. Christopher Massey said the girl, who was wearing boots, hat and coat over stretch pants, was fine after her snowy trek. Massey said the mother failed to notice her daughter was missing because she was “busy doing other things.”
The girl wandered into the Circle K convenience store at 262 Western Ave. shortly after 6 p.m. looking for ice cream. Massey said the store clerk noticed the child was alone, called police and kept the child at the store.
Massey said police had difficulty coaxing information from the youngster.
“The clerk had given her a Slush Puppy and she was more interested in that,” Massey said.
Once police had a name they were able to come up with a possible address. The first location was incorrect, but police found the girl’s mother after that.
Massey would not say what street the girl lived on, but said it was about a quarter-mile from the store. Massey said there was snow on the ground and a mixture of snow and rain fell as the child walked alone on a route that took her alongside heavily traveled Western Avenue.
The girl had dressed herself in her winter gear.
“She just got out of the house without her mother knowing,” Massey said.
Massey said “the totality” of the incident, including the length of time the child was gone without notice, as well as the weather and potential for danger, led to the charges against the mother. Massey said two other children live in the home, an older sibling and a younger one.
Massey said police determined the children were not in danger staying in the home Wednesday night. He credited the store clerk with keeping the girl safe, saying the employee “did an outstanding job.”
Craig Crosby — 621-5642 firstname.lastname@example.org