FAIRFIELD — Two fathers and a mother have court dates after police dealt with three wandering toddler cases in the past 10 days — two the same child.

“It could have been tragic results,” acting police Chief Joseph Massey said Friday. “It’s just a miracle that none of these children were hurt.”

On Thursday night, a 23-month-old girl was found crying at the end of a strangers’ driveway in Fairfield Center after she crossed at least two busy roads to get there.

Her father, Christopher Whitten-Drummond, 30, was wearing headphones while using a computer when the child walked out of the house, police said. Whitten-Drummond was charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

Another father, Michael Stewart, was arrested on Wednesday after his toddler was found alone in the middle of four-lane Main Street near downtown twice in one week.

The 2-year-old boy was first found the morning of June 5, then again Wednesday night. Both Stewart and the boy’s mother, Cayann Vigue, 28, were summoned on a charge of endangering the welfare of a child after the first incident, and Stewart was arrested on the same charge after the second one.

“What is it going to take for you folks to learn that as parents, you need to be responsible and take care of your children?” Massey said.

Police reported all three cases to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

DHHS gets involved

When DHHS officials receive such a report, a caseworker is assigned to investigate, and an assessment is done on the family of the child, according to Therese Cahill-Low, director of the department’s Office of Child and Family Services.

That assessment may include interviewing the parents if they have been identified, and trying to find support people such as neighbors or relatives, she said. The investigation also includes determining if the child is in “imminent jeopardy of harm,” according to Cahill-Low.

In recounting the recent cases, Massey said that at 10:50 a.m. June 5, Sgt. Kingston Paul met a person outside the police station who reported that a child wearing only a diaper was in the middle of Main Street near the railroad underpass.

Paul headed to the area and asked Officer Shanna Blodgett to go to 6 Winter St., which was believed to be the child’s home.

Blodgett found Stewart and Vigue there, and asked if they were missing a child, according to Massey.

“They said that they were, so the officer asked them how the child ended up by himself — a 2-year-old in the middle of Main Street. They simply told the officers that the child was very active and any time they turn their backs, he’s gone, and that somehow he got out without them realizing it,” Massey said.

Blodgett determined the parents were negligent and summoned them for endangering the welfare of a child.

In that case, the toddler crossed Winter Street, went down a small embankment and into the northbound travel lane of Main Street, according to police. Main Street is a busy, four-lane street.

Then at 8 p.m. Wednesday a motorist told Sgt. Paul St. Amand that he was driving north on Main Street by the railroad underpass and saw a toddler in the middle of the street and no one else was around. The child was in the northbound passing lane, Massey said.

Fearing the child would get hurt, the man picked him up, carried him to the side of the road and asked a woman standing outside of her house if she knew who his parents were, Massey said.

She said she thought she did, so he asked her to take the child while he went to the police department to report the wandering child.

The woman told police she thought the child lived at 6 Winter St., so police went there, knocked on the door and Stewart answered, Massey said. They asked if he knew his child was missing, to which he replied that he was just looking for him.

He was arrested and again charged with endangering the welfare of a child; he was released on $2,000 unsecured bail, and is scheduled to appear in Skowhegan District Court Aug. 14, the same date he and his wife will appear on the June 5 charge.

Dad wearing headphones

At 9 p.m. Thursday, a call came in to Somerset Communications Center that a toddler was found on Ohio Hill Road in Fairfield Center.

A man on Ohio Hill Road told police he heard a child crying and went outside to investigate, and found the girl. She was inside his house with his wife, he told police at the scene.

“When he got outside, he noticed a little toddler near the end of his driveway,” he said. “It was a little girl, 23 months old, and so he picked her up and was very, very concerned and brought her in the house and called Somerset.”

Police checked the area and found the child’s home at 179 Norridgewock Road, which is state routes 104 and 139.

Police said the toddler crossed that busy road, as well as busy Ohio Hill Road, to get to where she was found, he said.

Whitten-Drummond was home when police arrived and when they asked if he knew where the child was, he said he thought she was playing upstairs with her three siblings, Massey said.

Whitten-Drummond, who was alone with the children at the time, was using his computer and wearing headphones when the toddler wandered off, according to Massey.

“He didn’t see or hear the 2-year-old leave the house,” he said.

The child’s mother arrived home after police arrived, he said. She was not charged, but Whitten-Drummond was summoned with endangering the welfare of a child and is scheduled to appear in Skowhegan District Court Aug. 14, Massey said.

DHHS officials may not discuss specific cases because of privacy rules. But Cahill-Low said that when the agency investigates a child case and decides to pursue custody, it must petition the courts.

“That’s not our first choice,” she said.

The department would rather find support from relatives, develop a safety plan, and have people in charge or responsible for ensuring the child’s safety and well-bring, she said.

Cahill-Low said the department receives reports of unsupervised children, and there are cases that, more than likely, do not get reported.

Amy Calder — 861-9247
[email protected]

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