Charleston Police on the scene where bystanders found a toddler walking in a vacant parking lot at 6am

It was a scary morning for a Charleston man after he was forced into babysitting duty overnight.    Motorists along busy Patrick Street in Charleston noticed a toddler walking alone in the parking lot of K-Mart about 6:15 Friday morning.  

It turns out the child had wandered into that parking lot after leaving a home where he was spending the night at his uncle’s home nearby.   He’d walked along the street and across the railroad to reach the parking lot.   However, police say it wasn’t the uncle’s fault.

“It appears he took the steps reasonable to care for the child based on the circumstances,” said Charleston Police Chief of Detectives Steve Cooper. “The child was smart enough and willing enough to leave the residence.”

The circumstances were the child’s grandmother, his normal caregiver, suffered a heart attack late Thursday night.  The uncle was asked to care for the boy while she went to he hospital.   He took the child to his home, which wasn’t child proof at all.

“The only lock he had on his door was on the door knob.  He put the child to bed and about an hour later he went to bed,”  said Cooper. “The child was able to unlock the door and walk out of the home.”

Cooper said the child wasn’t accustomed to being in the strange environment and it apparently prompted him to leave.    The uncle has not been charged, and probably won’t be, since it was nobody’s fault.  It’s also fortunate the child wasn’t injured and compassionate bystanders helped the youngster. 

The boy was taken into the custody of Child Protective Services, but has since been placed back with a family member in a home better equipped to handle a two year old.

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