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Men find toddler wandering alone; 2-year-old boy wearing only T-shirt, no diaper

Child found in freezing weather after 2 a.m.
Updated: Dec. 11, 2019 at 7:02 PM EST
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SCOTTSBURG, Ind. (WAVE) - A 2-year-old child who wandered nearly half a mile away from his home overnight has been found safe and returned to his guardians.

Scottsburg police were called around 2:53 a.m. on Wednesday after two men reported finding a child wandering in the Vision First parking lot off of Highway 31.

“I thought it was a cat or a dog; I wasn’t sure," one of the men, Christopher Tharp, told WAVE 3 News. "Then, I realized it was a kid. He only had a shirt on.”

Tharp told police the child was only wearing a T-shirt, no pants or diaper. Police said one of the men wrapped the child in his hoodie to keep him warm.

“He was freezing cold,” Tharp said. “He was shivering, couldn’t think, he couldn’t talk. It was 22 degrees last night. It was dark, I think he was headed towards the highway originally, and I think one of the cars went by and scared him and he took off towards the bank.”

When Scottsburg police arrived, officers placed the child in a warm police car and called Scott County EMS to evaluate the child. Police said it took several minutes for him to stop shivering.

Tharp said the toddler didn’t talk to him at first.

“After he got a little warm, he said, ‘What’s your name?’" Tharp said. "I think he only said that because I was saying that to him. He was playing parrot with me.”

Police said they searched where the child was found along Owen Street, Highway 31, and Sara Lane. Officers searched for homes with their doors open, but didn’t find any answers. EMS arrived and the child was taken to the hospital.

Police said the nurses at the hospital advised there were no signs of abuse, and that the child seemed to be clean and taken care of. The Indiana Department of Child Services was contacted and arrangements were made to place the child in foster care.

The man who found the toddler is also a father. He said what happened is a scary thought for him.

“I haven’t even slept; it was a bad deal," Tharp said. "Could have been a bad deal. Didn’t end so bad.”

At 4:40 a.m., dispatch received a 911 call from a man claiming to be the grandfather of the child. Police went to the home and spoke to the great-grandfather. He told police the child must have gotten out through an unlocked door. Police said the great-grandfather and an officer went to the hospital and met with Child Services. Child Services worked with the great-grandfather to put a safety plan in place. The child was released to his grandfather’s care.

WAVE 3 News spoke to the child’s great-grandfather, who didn’t want to be on camera. He said the child accidentally got out and is OK.

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