Baby Crawls 40 Feet From Home. Grandma Can’t Find Him, Calls 911 and Is Thrown in Jail


Lord help any of us if we are ever overwhelmed by the demands of caring for young kids. In this tshdhirkhz
particular instance
, an 18-month-old (other accounts say 11-month-old) was playing with his sister near the front door, while in the care of their grandma, Tammy Cooper. (Their mom died earlier this year.) Somehow the boy got out and crawled 40 feet, into the road, in the rain. Strangers found him and honked to try to alert whoever he belonged to. Then they drove to where they could get a cell signal and called 911.

Meantime, the grandma also called 911 when she couldn’t find the boy.

Tough. Police came and arrested her, throwing her in jail. According to this report, by WSAZ in Kentucky, she is facing charges of “wanton endangerment.”

Now, look, it does sound like something truly went wrong, and the child was in danger. What I can’t stand about our society is the way this is immediately interpreted as warranting punishment, instead of sympathy and help. This grandma’s daughter is dead. She is looking after young children. She was distraught when she couldn’t find her little grandson. And after all that, she is thrown in jail.

She has since been released, but the reporter said the authorities were not telling the press who has custody of the kids.

I am not in favor of babies crawling into the street. But I am also not in favor of automatically condemning caregivers when something goes wrong. Remember this case? Even the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled that not every child tragedy is a crime.

We’ve all had heart-stopping moments when we couldn’t find our kids, or when we lost our cool, or when we watched in horror as something happened beyond our control. This is called being human.

If kids are repeatedly endangered, that’s one thing. But absent any other indication of true neglect, simply being sorrowful, overwhelmed and older do not warrant pitching someone into a cell. What if we approached all these sad and scary situations by first giving the people involved the benefit of the doubt? Wouldn’t that work better for everyone? – L



If a baby wanders into the rain, is the caregiver a criminal?

If a baby wanders out into the rain, is the caregiver a criminal?


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87 Responses to Baby Crawls 40 Feet From Home. Grandma Can’t Find Him, Calls 911 and Is Thrown in Jail

  1. hineata May 22, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

    Why oh why would you honk? Get your butt out of the car and pick the baby up OFF the road?! Maybe they did and I can’t read that part, but if not that’s just sick, and if anyone wants arresting it’s the them. The sort of twits who leave a baby in the road and honk a warning!


  2. Anna May 22, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

    Absolutely agree. The most bizarre thing about this urge to punish in such situations is: what do you think you’re accomplishing? The grandmother is already terrified at what happened.

    It’s like those prosecutors who charge parents with murder when they forgot an infant in the car: does the prosecutor really believe the parent’s life hasn’t already been destroyed? Or that they aren’t consumed with regret and remorse already? Do they think somehow a jail sentence is going to bring home to the parent how serious this is?

    A friend of a friend whose child accidentally died in a hot car was eventually sentenced to a day of community service each year on the anniversary of his child’s death. Seriously: does the judge who passed that sentence think the dad would forget what happened that day if he didn’t have this sentence to “teach him a lesson”? I guess it’s better than being jailed altogether, but still. . . it’s just plain cruel.

  3. Tim May 22, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

    Anna: It sounds to me like that judge passed that sentence to prevent the father from properly mourning his child. He can’t visit his child’s grave because he has to be elsewhere. It’s petty, nasty, vindictive, and it’s not justice.

  4. Chuck99 May 22, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

    The worst thing about this is that real lesson people are learning is that the police can’t be trusted. That’s going to come back to cause a lot of trouble in the future, if we’re not all careful.

  5. lollipoplover May 22, 2015 at 5:48 pm #

    I’ve told the story on this site, but when my older sister was this age, she *escaped* from my mother and wandered 2 doors down to the home of a new family that just moved in (we think the moving trucks lured her there). The woman who found her picked her up and was told by another neighbor that the baby was one of my mothers, we all had very light blonde hair. So the new neighbor walked the baby back and was graciously thanked by my mom, who invited her in for tea. They became lifelong friends.

    Kids can and will escape supervision despite our best efforts. Compassion goes a long way. The 911 caller helped this baby. But she had to take it a step further and was vindictive and pushing the martyr mom-perfect parent agenda that just sickens me.

  6. Cynthia812 May 22, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

    Can’t help but wonder if some of the honkers (and I agree that’s a terrible response) thought they might be charged with kidnapping if they picked up the child.

  7. Nicole May 22, 2015 at 6:22 pm #

    As soon as the police are involved, there seems to be no other option than someone must be punished. And by punished, we mean jail, because in the US there is no other punishment. If anything goes wrong, from a baby wandering away to a mass murder, the answer is jail. Except when the answer is execution. So I guess the grandma should be grateful that she got the lesser of our two punishments.

  8. Kimberly May 22, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

    When I was a teenager, I was babysitting a family. The parents sneaked out because their 3 yo tended to pitch fits. When she realized they had left she ran upstairs. I followed her up – but turned to her bedroom because I thought that is where she went. Instead she had gone up the back stairs then down the front stairs and out the door.

    The alarm went off, I wasn’t concerned with that – I was chasing the 3 yo down the street. The cops responded to the alarm just as the 2 older kids and I had managed to get her back in the house. The response of the Memorial Villages Cops -a 3 yo escaping the house was a good reason for the alarm going off. They spent a little time being friendly with the kids letting them sit in the driver’s seat of the patrol car – so that they wouldn’t be afraid of cops or think they were in trouble.

    I have a friend who’s 2 yo daughter was found asleep in her front yard by a neighbor. He was coming home from the graveyard shift, and thought the child was a doll. It was about to rain so he decided to put the doll on the porch. When he realized it was the little girl, he went up the front door and found it cracked open. He banged on the door and yelled out afraid they might have been the victim of a crime. That woke the parents. The Mom’s family has a long history of sleep walking. The toddler had just moved to a toddler bed. The parents got one of those alarms they make for hotel room doors and put it on the hall door when they went to bed each night, until a house alarm could be put in. Friend told me that most households in her family have house alarms to keep the sleepwalkers in – not the bad guys out. She actually has stickers – pretty visible that show firefighters where her kids sleep. She is more scared of a house fire, because of a fire that seriously burned her father, than a kidnapper.

  9. M May 22, 2015 at 6:42 pm #

    Why not charge the people who found the baby with kidnapping? They took the child in the car, and probably without a car seat! Abuse and neglect too!



  10. Suzanne May 22, 2015 at 6:45 pm #

    This is just sad.

  11. Barry Lederman May 22, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

    I concur with your take Lenore. Sometimes a kid will wander off from the most careful parent. Making a federal case out of it is no answer – especially where there is not a pattern of neglect.

  12. Warren May 22, 2015 at 10:42 pm #

    Complete aholes and wannabee heroes.

    You come across this situation……you get off your ass, out of your car, pick the child up, and go door to door until you find the child’s home. Say you are welcome and leave.

    Anything else is just wrong.

  13. Reader May 22, 2015 at 11:17 pm #

    OK, so in this situation I think the best neighbourhood response would be a) be friendly to the grandmother; what a tragic and difficult situation, b) offer babysitting, cooking, any help you can, c) if she can’t afford it or doesn’t know what’s available, help her to get appropriate and not over-the-top safety equipment (like a baby gate and maybe even one of those leash things – which I normally loathe, but could be justified in this situation – if the child is prone to running off and the grandmother has difficulty chasing him).

  14. JP Merzetti May 22, 2015 at 11:42 pm #

    @ Warren,

    This is what adults used to do.
    You know…..the ones old enough to drive, old enough to own cell phones and know how to dial 911 (or when not to)…..old enough to think on their feet, seat…….without posterior motives.

    To me, what gets lost in the story is the happy ending it should have had.
    The tot was unharmed. Found in time. Not run over by an evil car.
    And should be returned intact to loving arms.

  15. Jenny Islander May 23, 2015 at 12:40 am #

    The thing that gets me is that she is being punished for being bereaved and poor.

    Too poor to get a fence for a yard she never thought she’d need a fence for back when she had money, if she ever did. (Foreign readers: Many old people in the U.S. are poor even if they made good money when they were able to work. All it takes is one catastrophic illness or accident.)

    Too poor to hire a caregiver.

    Too poor to own a house with a big, tempting playroom far away from the door.

    Too poor, quite possibly, to get the door fixed–although babies that age have been found on top of refrigerators, so it’s also quite possible that he hit a milestone that morning and proved it in the most terrifying way possible.

    And now she’s in jail, and what’s going to happen to the children? Shuffled around, probably not together, taken from the last familiar place–because some cop decided to punish her for being poor.

    Here’s a gosh-wow idea: Take the baby home and find out if Grandma has a social worker who might be able to connect her with some help!

  16. indigosky May 23, 2015 at 12:44 am #

    I was much too intelligent for my age and was able to walk and unlock doors very young. Luckily for my parents, I only ever let myself out into our 6 foot high fenced backyard with one gate that was too tall for my to unlock and never out the front. I literally could be gone in a blink. It happens, kids are born Houdinis. That poor family.

  17. Donald May 23, 2015 at 2:39 am #

    Revenge has become a knee jerk reaction. This is scary The fear culture is coming at us like an avalanche!

  18. Ree May 23, 2015 at 3:01 am #

    I once called the police because my son (5 at the time, nonverbal, special needs and wearing a pull up) didn’t come home at 3 on his bus and the bus driver wasn’t answering her phone. I was told I was wasting their time and given a ticket, as well as another parent who called. That was the only time I’ve ever needed to call the police in my life. They were proven to just be bullies who are looking for someone to mistreat and are otherwise unnecessary. I guess they don’t want to be bother if there isn’t a dead body involved. Looking for kids isn’t their job. BTW, that bus driver didn’t answer ANY calls until after 6:00. She was late and decided to just keep all of the kids on the bus while she picked up older kids (usually, the elementary kids are dropped off at home first before the bus then goes to the jr high school.) After that, I just drove my son to school.

  19. Jill May 23, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    Stellar job by the police. (Sarcasm)
    Anyone who thinks that this country isn’t on the verge of becoming a police state needs to wake up and smell the coffee. The poor have been aware of it for a long time. Before long, members of the shrinking middle class will be routinely clapped behind bars for minor infractions of the law. Then they’ll be sorry that their go-to response when anyone poor or black or both stepped out of line was “Send them to jail and throw away the key!”

  20. Erika May 23, 2015 at 10:11 am #

    I was cleaning my ten month old son’s room this morning while he played on the floor — I turned around and he wasn’t there. I found him in the living room by the front door. He was so proud of himself for pulling one over on his mom. 🙂 Am I a criminal now?

  21. Matt May 23, 2015 at 10:53 am #

    It sucks how the news people use the word “allow” multiple times when describing the situation as if the Grandma stood there watching the baby crawl into the road and allowed it to happen. That’s just not true and is irresponsible reporting. When I was in 3rd grade I climbed out my kitchen window to sneak outside and play. I fell off the railing about 15 feet and fractured my skull. It was all my fault nothing my mother could have done to prevent it. If that happened today its very possible she would be arrested. This idea of perfect parenting 24-7 is so lame. Is there a contest I’m not aware of for the best parent award? Why so quick to arrest people for a lapse a mistake an accident?

  22. Puzzled May 23, 2015 at 11:24 am #

    >Anyone who thinks that this country isn’t on the verge of becoming a police state needs to wake up and smell the >coffee.

    And what it’s served with! (Sorry, can’t resist.)

  23. RJ May 23, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

    Overall the spiritual and mental health of society is on a downward trend and this police state mentality is just a symptom of that. The same goes for our war mongering government and Big Brother politicians.
    The larger truth is that both the government and the police are a reflection of the spiritual health of the individuals that make up our society as a whole.
    A wise man once said that you can tell how bad off a society has become by how many laws there are … the more laws the worse off is that society. The laws come as a result of the deterioration.

  24. Reziac May 23, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

    I take issue with the notion that this escaped baby was in danger. It was NOT in danger, precisely because good people came along and looked out for the child. This is what good people do. This is what almost everyone does if you don’t put them in fear of helping.

    Should having an escape artist child be a crime? Seriously?? In that case, call the cops, cuz there goes my neighbor’s toddler again… in a bit mom will be along in hot pursuit.

  25. JKP May 23, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

    The trouble is treating a *symptom* as if it were the problem itself.

    Unattended babies/toddlers can be a *symptom* of neglect, but is not in and of itself neglect. Sometimes finding a baby in the middle of the road can lead to the discovery of truly neglectful parents who weren’t taking care of the child at all. And sometimes finding a baby in the middle of the road leads to reuniting said baby with the frantic caregiver who has been searching for them. It’s worth looking into how the baby ended up in the middle of the road, but is not evidence in and of itself of neglect.

    If I have a really bad headache, that can be a *symptom* of a brain tumor. But if I went to the doctor and said I had a headache, and he treated me with surgery and chemo without any testing, that would be malpractice. There could be many other explanations for the headache, and it’s important to get a proper diagnosis before starting any treatment to make sure that it’s the right treatment.

    Parents are being treated as if any symptoms of neglect are an automatic diagnosis of neglect, which should be police/CPS malpractice. A child can be hungry because they are being neglected and their parents are too strung out on drugs to buy or prepare food for the child. Or a child can be hungry because they willfully refused to eat when everyone else was eating and wanted to play videogames and then 2 hours later is complaining about being hungry and the parent is letting them learn natural consequences to their choices.

    We don’t have to ignore *symptoms* because those can actually help catch real cases of abuse/neglect before they spiral out of control. But we can’t treat symptoms as if they are the disease itself.

  26. JLTurner May 23, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

    If I could I’d spit in the face of all the law enforcement from the cops to the CPS involved with this crap.

  27. MomOf8 May 23, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

    As a young mother of four, I had a similar experience. Nap time, my 3yo boy and 20mo girl were sleeping (I thought) and I was dozing in my chair, nursing my newborn. When I went to lay her down, my 20 month old wasn’t in her bed.

    Long story short, she’d gotten out the back door, unlatched the gate, and taken her doll for a walk downtown in her toy stroller. She was big for her age, very determined, very smart.

    We lived in a tiny town, with a police chief and one officer. I happened upon the chief while I was looking next door at the school playground, he got on his radio, and found that the officer had picked her up many blocks from our house. They were driving around town while the officer figured out what to do, I guess.

    When the officer brought her home, my little girl wasn’t glad to see me and had to be coaxed out of the car. She was having an adventure. The officer told me that if she ever saw my girl out of the yard again, she’d have CPS on me in an instant, told me how neglectful I was, and that I needed to work on my parenting skills.

    When I asked my daughter where she was going and what she was thinking, she said, “I was taking my baby to the store.”

    We put chain locks at the inside top of the exterior doors. We put a lock on the gate. She quickly learned how to climb over the fence.

    Anyway, she’s 12 now and doing fine. She was just teaching us a lesson on determination. But at the time it was so scary and then so humiliating, I questioned my ability to parent.

    Also… that news story! The reporters act pissed cause she wouldn’t give them an interview and made her out to be a horrible person. Pompous self-serving ignorant jerks. I hope she knows she has supporters. And the people who found the baby, they’re just loving their 15 minutes of fame. All the keening about how wet and dirty he was! Duh, it was raining and he was crawling.

  28. pentamom May 23, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

    JKP, that was excellently put.

  29. Vicky May 23, 2015 at 9:26 pm #

    This is outrageous! It’s overreach and its a travesty of justice!

  30. Vanessa May 24, 2015 at 12:05 am #

    What on earth were the drivers thinking? I’ve helped to stop traffic before so that a loose dog could be rescued from the road. I’d be ashamed to do any less for an actual human baby.

  31. sexhysteria May 24, 2015 at 4:04 am #

    The “witnesses” were probably afraid to get out of their cars because then they would be arrested for attempted kidnapping.

  32. Nicole R. May 24, 2015 at 6:25 am #

    Another shout-out to JKP. That’s an excellent way to put it!

    We need to start evaluating these situations not based on one isolated incident, but based on the overall environment and reasons for what happened.

  33. Andre L. May 24, 2015 at 6:37 am #

    The idea of a stranger just picking up a child and going asking who’s the parent with the toddler on their hands is not feasible. It would be very likely to trigger another police call reporting an attempted kidnapping (adult, unknown, picking up a baby and possibly moving it to another location, maybe the seat of a car).

    Within the current mindset, anyone who finds a baby/toddler in distress, too young to talk and articulate what is happening, and without any other possible adult (parent) in sight, is just to secure the kid in the sense of preventing him/her from entering traffic lanes or jumping on a body of water, and immediately calling the police.

  34. Jill May 24, 2015 at 7:17 am #

    @Andre If I find a baby in the road I’m not going to “secure” her or him and call the police. I’m going to pick that baby up and go knock on doors until I find out where that baby belongs.

  35. Donna May 24, 2015 at 7:49 am #

    Guys, they picked up the baby, put him in the car with them and then honked to try to get the attention of the care giver. They didn’t leave the baby in the street while honking at it.

    The cops were wrong here, not the family that called them. There is no indication that they wanted the grandmother arrested and in fact honked for 10 minutes hoping that the caregiver would respond and they could just hand over the child. Yes, as you read the article, you can think of potentially better ways to handle the situation. But they, who were caught up in the urgency of the situation, didn’t. Going on and on about how the grandmother can’t be held accountable for not being perfect, but holding them to being perfect is hypocritical. And for all you know, they couldn’t walk door to door for some reason.

  36. Warren May 24, 2015 at 8:59 am #

    Andre L,

    You are way too paranoid for your own good.


    Sorry, but sitting in your car and honking a horn to find the caregiver is insane. At the worst, these people are ahole wannabee heroes, at the best they are fearful beings afraid to go and knock on doors. But how they handled themselves was far from acceptable.

  37. Donna May 24, 2015 at 12:43 pm #


    I disagree totally. My most natural response would be to call the police if I find a child while driving down the road. Not because I want the parents arrested, but because the police have far more resources than me to find the parents and to deal with the situation if the parents can’t be found quickly. While this particular kid was a short distance from home, I’ve dealt with cases where kids about this age (the older one given) were over a mile from home when found.

    Further, I don’t know that I would automatically assume that a CRAWLING ONLY infant actually got onto the road on his own volition, which is what this seems to be based on the report that the child crawled to the road. That is pretty odd. A walker, sure. But you don’t hear of CRAWLERS getting out of the house and getting into the road. I have no idea how this even happened. How does a kid who can’t walk get a door open and get a gate open (article says there was a fence)?

    I happen to know that police are too prone to be unreasonable to call them unless absolutely necessary, but everyone is not a public defender or regular reader of this blog. Most people actually believe police to be nice aand helpful. Even here we get comments all the time indicating a general view of police as an agency whose goal is to help people.

    Further, do you know these people? Are you sure they can walk? My mother can’t. She had a stroke a couple months ago. She can drive, but walking more than a block or two still saps all her energy. These people could have medical conditons that make it difficult to walk. Or could have an infant that they don’t want to drag around in the rain. Or a million other things that made going door to door difficult for them.

    And the fact is that we absolutely should be able to rely on our police to be reasonable. There is no reason whatsoever that calling the police in situations such as this should result in arrest of anyone. The police system is absolutely broken if we can’t count on them to repatriate a rogue child without putting someone in jail.

  38. JKP May 24, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    Donna – totally agree. I would likewise call the police if I found a baby and didn’t immediately locate the parents, not to get anyone arrested, but to reunite the baby faster.

    Not just that, but with a child that young, I would worry that something had actually happened to the caregiver. What if they had a heart attack and are passed out unconscious? Going door to door wouldn’t help anything in that case.

    Also, the caregiver in this case had already called the police herself. So even if the people who found the baby had not called the police and instead gone door to door, the grandmother’s call already got the police involved.

    The problem is that the police need to exercise more discretion in not overreacting.

    Neglect/abuse should need a pattern of behavior, not just one mistake.

  39. Rebecca May 24, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

    I think the people who found the child were right to call the police. I wouldn’t want to go knocking on doors and hand off a baby if I wasn’t sure that the person really is their guardian or caregiver. I would feel comfortable if it were a young child who could speak and tell me that, yes, this is my mommy or grandma, but not as much with a baby. I’m not paranoid or anything, I’d just like to be sure. I think the cops’ reactions were the ones that were overblown. A reasonable cop should be able to help without criminalizing the grandmother. And we citizens should have the expectation that the police, being there to “protect and serve” the public, would act reasonably in a situation like this. I think that’s where the problem lies. Criminalizing every accident in parenting has gotten out of control. We’ve read about the over-zealous “good Samaritans” who call the cops in order to get people in trouble for parenting decisions with which they disagree, but it doesn’t sound like this was the case in this situation. I don’t know what more they really could be expected to do.

  40. Puzzled May 24, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    I agree with Donna, and I think it is unfortunate that the growth of the police state makes that option – the only reasonable one, really – increasingly less attractive. If I found a child crawling in the street, I’d want to get help after getting the child out of the street. Even if I felt it was a good idea to go around ringing doorbells asking “is this yours?” I’d want the matter recorded to protect myself. Yet I also know that, no matter how innocent it turns out to be, I might be getting the guardian arrested, as in this case, or face some crazy accusation myself, or get the baby tasered, or who knows what.

  41. Andre L. May 24, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    I don’t think I’m being paranoid. I’m trying to look at the facts of this case:

    – a baby, crawling, at most 18months old, incapable of communicating

    – alone in a street

    – no visible adult in sight that could be the parent/caregiver

    I think this is a much different situation than a 5-year old lost in a mall, for instance. Because the child cannot communicate, because the space isn’t supervised (public street) and because a baby crawling way out is definitively an actually dangerous situation for the baby (contrary to a 8 year-old that is merely a bit lost while walking, for instance), calling the authorities is probably the safest move for everyone.

    Blame the cops’ overreaction, if anything.

  42. Jill May 24, 2015 at 4:48 pm #

    As a rational human being who is not prone to paranoia I would never think in this situation, “Better not go around ringing doorbells asking people if the baby belongs to them because they might be lying evil maniacs who would see it as a chance to get a free baby to sacrifice to Satan.”
    I also wouldn’t think that the baby’s mother might be dead of a heart attack, or was killed by a lunatic who will kill me, too, if I ring the doorbell.
    Such imaginations some of you have!

  43. Papilio May 24, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

    Ringing the doorbell at the nearest house and ask where the kid belongs was my first thought too. Assuming people actually know if the closer neighbors have a baby/toddler…
    If the kid seems to have come from further away that’s soon enough to call the cops.

    @Jenny Islander: “Foreign readers: Many old people in the U.S. are poor even if they made good money when they were able to work. All it takes is one catastrophic illness or accident.”
    Only *old* people?

  44. kate May 24, 2015 at 6:54 pm #

    I would call the police on the assumption that anyone missing a toddler still in diapers is probably frantic and has called the police already. The police have more resources at their disposal to help find the child’s caregiver. The toddler might not even be from that neighborhood.

  45. Warren May 24, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

    How in the hell is calling the police going to be that much faster than knocking on some doors? I don’t care how many resources the police dept. has, those resources are not on the scene and won’t be for some time. By the time a cruiser gets there I can knock on at least half a dozen doors, if not more.

    And if the child is close to home, knocking on doors will find the home quicker than calling the cops. Also for the worst first thinkers that say they would assume something has happened to the caregiver………..well knocking on doors just might save their life. If you don’t find the home in the 5 mins or so you took to knock on the doors, is not going to affect the police dept.s effectiveness, at all.

  46. Anthony Jones May 24, 2015 at 11:16 pm #

    Why was MEGAN KANKA not jailed for letting her 10 yr old daughter named MEGAN sell Girl Scout cookies door to door in her neighborhood by herself!


  47. Jill May 25, 2015 at 10:37 am #

    One last thing: 18-month-olds can and do talk. My kid was talking pretty darn fluently by the time he was eight months old.
    Whether or not this particular child could talk and would be willing to point out where he lived is unknown but I wouldn’t be surprised if he could.

  48. E May 26, 2015 at 9:51 am #

    @Warren, it seems obvious to me that if someone was going to stop to help a crawling baby, their next action wouldn’t be to calculate how to put the screws to the kid’s parent/caregiver. If a child was missing, it’s entirely possible that the parent/caregiver had ALREADY called the police to enlist help.

    Honking a horn might bring out SOMEONE who would recognize the baby. And at that point, you don’t have to go door to door, you just go directly to that house.

    If someone was laying on the horn on my street, I would presume they needed help. And if someone was holding my neighbor’s child, I could easily say “they live in that house”. In my neighborhood, that would be FAR quicker than going door to door.

  49. raeynah May 26, 2015 at 9:54 am #

    She’s only 48, people acting like she is too old to get a job or afford childcare in any way. Just because it has the word “grandmother” doesn’t mean its the 80 year old lady I would automatically think about.

  50. E May 26, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    And I’m not sure if this was an update from when the post first showed up, but I don’t understand how someone doesn’t call 911 when:

    “Two people said they found her grandson, soaked from heavy rains, dirty and in need of care in the middle of the road.

    Melissa Hall said she also noticed the baby boy looked hurt.

    “His legs were red, so I was really concerned that he had already been run over,” she said. ”

    If you think the child needs medical attention, you call 911. You are calling for help, you aren’t calling for the cops to come arrest someone.

  51. E May 26, 2015 at 10:10 am #

    According to this article, the grandmother actually did call 911.

  52. Warren May 26, 2015 at 10:30 am #


    Blow it out your ear. Sitting in the middle of a neighbourhood laying on the horn is not an acceptable way to do anything, other than get people pissed off.

    You can make all the excuses in the world you want, but in my opinion, the first course of action is knocking on doors. Even more so when you think the child is cold, dirty and in need of attention. How many people carry blankets and towels in their cars? Not many, but pretty much every home will have them.

    Get off your ass, put the phone down and be a human being. Calling 911 is nothing more than finding the fastest and easiest way of passing on responsiiblity with minimal involvement. So call 911 and go home and brag to your facebook friends about how big a hero you are.

  53. Justin May 26, 2015 at 10:36 am #

    I think it is wise to never call the police. I guess as a last resort, if all else fails. They are not there to help anyone out. In the past they used to be a helpful public servant. In modern days, with surplus military tanks, grenade launchers, and SWAT ready to go at any time, their mentality has turned to crime fighter. And a crime fighter is always looking for a crime to stop or a person to shoot. It is not a good idea to bring a person like that around as you might end up being in their sights. Watch this for more details about why it is never good to talk to the police.

  54. E May 26, 2015 at 10:54 am #

    Warren — I love how you are the final word on any situation, despite the fact that you weren’t there and there is commentary from people who actually were.

    If someone finds someone in my family who cannot communicate, and appears to be hurt and in distress, I sincerely hope they call 911 in order to get them medical evaluation and help.

    It’s kind of strange — this whole website sort of hinges on the fact that most people are not out to take or harm your child. And yet, you very often think the worst of people.

    As Donna pointed out, most people DON’T read Free Range stories as often as us here. Most people DON’T call 911 on the regular, and certainly most people DON’T find crawling babies on a county road.

  55. E May 26, 2015 at 10:57 am #

    And while I’m blowing it out my ear, LOL, I can assure you that in my neighborhood, honking the horn would help. We have larger than average lots, we have houses set back and long driveways. In the time it would take to go to 2 houses, you could likely attract the attention of about 10 by honking your horn. It’s a lot faster for people (who are home) to walk down their driveway to see what’s up, than for 1 person to go to multiple houses.

  56. Warren May 26, 2015 at 11:07 am #

    Like I said. You go ahead and sit in your car, make the call and go home and brag to your internet friends how you saved a child’s life.

    Like I said you can make all the excuses you want for the way this was handled, and it doesn’t make them right.

    As for the final word, someone has to have it. Might as well be someone like me, who is right.

  57. Warren May 26, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    And you are going to side with someone that is so freaking stupid that they assume his red legs means he had been runover? Anyone with an IQ over their shoe size would think, hmmmmmmmmmm raining, crawling, red legs…………….the kid is cold, not run over by a freaking car.

  58. E May 26, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    Warren — I have no idea how I’d react if I found a 11 month old child sitting in the middle of the road in a downpour. But I’d be concerned about the kid — period. Not how the police “might” act if I called 911 out of concern for the child’s health status.

    I imagine I would be stressed out at the idea that my car could have HIT the kid especially given that it was pouring rain. I quite literally have NEVER encountered a baby sitting in the middle of the road.

    I would HOPE that the child had not been hit or injured, but I’d also have no idea how long the kid had been outside in the rain/elements.

    I watched the 2+ minute clip. They show the child in the car with them, wrapped in some sort of towel or blanket.

    And you know what — since the grandmother had already called the 911, it sounds like calling 911 was EXACTLY the fastest way to unite the 2 sets of people right? And are we to fault the grandmother for calling 911 as well?

    It’s very strange to me that the parent/grandparents that find themselves in these situation are given the benefit of the doubt by you, but NEVER the people who try to help.

  59. E May 26, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    I promise to stop posting on this, but I really cannot fathom why were are talking about the “excuses” that the helpful citizen has for doing exactly the correct thing (getting help) yet we are always kind and sympethetic/empathetic over the person who wasn’t watching the child.

    I’m not at ALL suggesting that we harshly judge a parent, but I’m also suggesting that we not harshly judge a passerby who did stop and help a child….especially in a situation like this where the child absolutely NEEDED it.

    These weren’t kids walking home from the playground or store, this child needed help.

    Somewhere there’s a reason the kid was able to get out to the middle of the road. Maybe it was neglect, maybe the older child shirked their duty. Maybe there was miscommunication as to who was watching the kid. There’s also a reason why someone called 911 — and that reason was finding a wet, dirty, 11 month old kid, sitting in the road screaming, in a down pour.

    You can’t possibly accept a reason in one case and ignore it in the other.

  60. Jill May 26, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    “His legs were red, so I was concerned that he hadn’t already been run over.”
    Yes, because running over babies with an automobile makes their legs red.
    You’d think the “helpful” couple who found him would have seen enough roadkill while driving through the rural South to have been aware that things that have been run over tend to be killed dead and squashed flat.
    The grandmother was right not to comment. That’s what everyone should do when confronted by the authorities. Shut up and lawyer up.
    It looks like she lives in a less-than-prosperous area. The idea that she needs to get a job and hire herself some childcare may not be feasible. There are places where there are no jobs to be had. We don’t know this lady’s story but from what little we know, her life is not a bed of roses. Criticizing her isn’t helpful.

  61. E May 26, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    @Jill — and criticizing the people that helped the 11 month old is helpful?

    I have no problem if people want to criticize the police or the DA or whoever overcharges this grandmother. But I don’t understand the criticism of people that actually helped a child in need and sought assistance for him.

    That’s helpful?

  62. E May 26, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    @Jill, the grandmother chose not to talk to the MEDIA.

  63. Warren May 26, 2015 at 4:45 pm #

    If you cannot make an assesment on a child’s health yourself, to determine whether or not 911 needs to be called, please do not have kids yourself. You are siding with morons that thought the kids legs had been run over, because they were red!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You are like all the others. Call 911, brag about being a hero while at the same time washing your hands of any real effort or responsibility.

    20 or so yrs ago before cellphones in every hand, what would you have done? Myself, I would have been knocking on doors back then, just as I would have now.

    So you go ahead and be the facebook hero of the day. While others that actually care will do the right thing.

  64. Laura C May 26, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

    Really? What is the world coming to? People jump to judgement then wonder why certain members of society are hesitant to contact the police or trust authorities when in crisis. We need to chill the heck out and put ourselves in others shoes. We ALL have endured those heart stopping moments when we lose sight of a little one..if you say you havent, then you are lying… imagine being thrown in jail?!?! What???

  65. Warren May 26, 2015 at 4:48 pm #

    Your point is clear. All the reasons you gave for how the child came to be out there, all of them assign blame. Facebook heros like you just love to assign blame.

  66. E May 26, 2015 at 5:12 pm #

    Ha Warren — I do NOT have a facebook account. I had one when my youngest wanted to join FB and as soon as I realized he was handling it properly and it offered NOTHING to me, I deleted my account. That was about 5 years ago!

    The women said she was “concerned”, she never said she knew with certainty he was run over.

    I love it though. There’s not a SINGLE quote from the caregiver yet they are given all the grace and sympathy. But a person who finds the kid and collects the from the road is given ZERO.

    I’m presuming that both the people who found him and his family are not medical professionals, no one could be certain what happened to the kid while he was on his own along side and on the road. Having a medical professional look at him seems like the correct course of action doesn’t it?

    Look, I’m all for compassion. I just don’t dole it out to complete strangers in a random way. The grandma deserves the benefit of the doubt and so do the people who helped protect her grandson (and in this case, they 100% helped protect the child).

    You keep ignoring the fact that the grandmother had called 911 herself. The 2 calls allowed all interested parties to know important information.

  67. Warren May 26, 2015 at 5:30 pm #


    Wet and dirty means get medical treatment? Idiots all around.

  68. Warren May 26, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

    No comment from the caregiver? Of course not, she has been criminally charged. She is being smart. Let me guess, you are one of those people that believe everytime a citizen envokes their rights, they are hiding something.

  69. Donna May 26, 2015 at 7:31 pm #

    Warren – Calling the police helps quickly because in many/most cases of a missing child, the caregivers have called the police themselves upon finding the child missing. It is the same reason that I call the pound when I find a lost dog to see if it has been reported missing and to report it as being found before I waste time going door to door to try to find the owner. Why should I spend hours knocking on doors when a single phone call could connect us to each other?

    Why would you assume that all caregivers are just sitting at home oblivious to the fact that their baby is missing? I imagine that most caregivers would have noticed an infant missing pretty quickly and head out to look for it. Now everyone is just running in circles – the caregivers our looking for the baby and the baby finders looking for the caregivers. It actually makes far more sense for the baby finders to stay put and seek aid to come to them in the hopes that the parents also find them. That whole hug a tree thing.

    And before you say “if both parties are running around looking, they will run into each other,” remember that the Meitivs were allegedly frantically looking for their kids and failed to find them sitting in a police car a couple blocks away for 3 hours. People looking for each other don’t always find each other.

  70. Warren May 26, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

    Give it a rest. You are making as many wild assumptions and excuses as E has.
    Tell me where I said I would knock on doors for hours. Holy crap you all love to make huge leaps.

    And I have gone looking for my kids from time to time, and guess what………..most people will have one person stay home to man phones, and answer the door, while others are out looking.

    So instead of taking ten minutes out of your busy freaking important lives to knock on a few doors, you would rather sit in your car, call 911 and roll the dice on the future of this family. I never said not to call the police, I just said to be a damn human being first and knock on a couple of doors. After everything we have read and seen here, you are still going to sit on your ass and let the chips fall where they may for this family. Makes you no better than the people calling about the Metiv kids.

    Again, the least amount of effort, so that you can act the hero, without actually doing anything. Give yourself a pat on the back.

  71. Donna May 27, 2015 at 1:31 am #

    Warren –

    If this woman had someone to stay home while whe went to look for her kid, the kid likely wouldn’t have gotten out to start with. As a single mother, I guarantee you that I am not just sitting around doing nothing while waiting for someone to come to my house to “man the phones” while my INFANT who can’t even walk is missing!!!! I’m out looking for him because I don’t actually expect an INFANT to find his own way home.

    Frankly, Warren it is you who have the hero complex. YOU have to be the one personally responsible for riding in as a white knight even if it is the dumbest possible way to go about it and even if it takes longer to reunite kid and parent. All that matters is you personally solved the problem.

    On the other hand, all I care about is getting an infant out of the street. I don’t need credit or glory. I don’t need to be the one who rushes in to bring him home personally so I can pat myself on the back for being such a great person.

  72. E May 27, 2015 at 8:27 am #

    @Warren — Donna has covered it all, but I never said I blamed the caregiver/grandma — I said that the people who stopped and got the baby out of the road deserve the same benefit of the doubt about what/why they did that day.

    And from all accounts, it was a down pour, so perhaps they decided to call authorities rather than strike out on foot at that exact time.

  73. Warren May 27, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    Donna and E,

    So knocking on a few doors is going to take longer to reunite the family than calling the cops? Where is your proof? Because they called the cops in this one, and she ended up in jail.

    No hero complex. Don’t give a rat’s ass about credit. What I do care about is doing things right, and not involving emergency services if they don’t need to be involved.

    The rest of you can hide behind your phones, and let others do the work. Just never thought you were that much of a coward is all.

  74. Warren May 27, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    Donna and E and the rest of their fans,

    911 and emergency services are for wait for it……………wait for it……………wait for it………..EMERGENCIES!!!

    Finding this child is not the emergency. Not being able to find the parents/caregiver after a reasonable effort, then it becomes a matter for emergency services. I am sick and tired of all these cowardly lazy people that think the only civic responsibililty they have is to use their damn cellphone.

  75. ks May 27, 2015 at 11:27 am #

    When I was an older toddler, in the late 1970s, I escaped my grandmother’s house and walked a mile down the road. I was picked up by someone driving and taken back to my grandmother, who was watching my sisters and I, both younger than me (it was a small town and everyone knew everyone else, so they knew where to take me). Nobody called the cops and it’s still a joke in my family about how I was very independent and quite the escape artist.

  76. E May 27, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

    Warren – this is the whole point. The world is not made up of people who think, react, behave identically. That will NEVER happen. It doesn’t matter if someone behaves one way out of an abundance of caution (or even if they want to be a FB hero, lol) — the authorities have to be able to use rational and reasonable actions following that fact.

    And it’s silly to argue about the good Samaritans — the police were going to show up anyway because the child’s grandmother called and asked for their help. They already knew the kid was missing and the caregiver didn’t know where he was.

  77. LuraF May 28, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    As a mother who once lost her son in her own couch (he crawled under a pile of still-folded blankets and fell asleep while I was making supper) and regularly had to retrieve him from running naked down our street (he was a marvelously fast little Houdini and thought it was amusing to go streaking after his bath time), I am certainly glad no one was making arrests over this garbage 25 years ago. I’d probably still be in prison on a number of charges related to having and “all boy” boy with a mind of his own.

  78. AntagonisticThinker May 28, 2015 at 10:42 am #

    Unbelieveable that people think its the strangers responsibility to find the parents. You have no idea what time pressures they were under to be on their way or anything else, but regardless, it is NOT their responsbility to find the caretakers. Perhaps they were running late for work, or a funeral, or maybe they wanted to get home to watch a TV show. It doesn’t matter how shallow their excuse, the child was not their responsibility. Along with free range, comes responsibility, and free rangers have no right to expect anyone else to watch their children or assist them (and has been pointed out, this was not a case of free range parenting, but the case of a very young infant/toddler in a dangerous situation.)

    Not to mention, people have been accused of kidnapping just for stopping to ask if a child needed help. I’m certainly human enough to move the child off the road, but I’m not going to risk my freedom and overreactiveness from police by putting the child in my car or carrying them around.

    And yes, I think its absolutely stupid to go knocking on doors asking if someone lost a child. My thought would be to call the police, because most likely the caretaker would have already called (or soon would be calling) to report their missing child. This would also serve to alleviate kidnapping charges, as I could ask the dispatcher if it would be OK to put the child in my car. And has been pointed out, I have NO idea who lives in those houses, and why in the world would I just have a baby over to them?

    Several people here believe the police overacted, yet they expect these perfect strangers to put themselves into a compromising position and risk the overreaction from the police on themselves? Bottom line, these strangers were not responsible for the baby, so anything they voluntarily chose to do for the baby should be commended, whether or not its the action we ourselves would have taken.

  79. Warren May 28, 2015 at 5:46 pm #


    So you are shallow and a coward. Not all of us are.

    And your time constraint excuse is invalid. Unless you are just going to call the cops and report seeing a kid in the street, and then run away, you are still going to spend time waiting for and then dealing with the police.

    I sincerely hope that when you or your child is in need of assistance, that you get someone that cares. Instead of a shallow uncaring moron like you.

  80. Beth May 29, 2015 at 7:22 am #

    @Warren, you may find life less disorienting, generally, if you don’t simply disbelieve other people when they tell you their experiences and their experiences differ from yours. Most, if not all, other people turn out to not be you.

  81. John May 29, 2015 at 7:55 am #

    Didn’t Popeye and Olive-oil’s baby, Sweepee, do this a few times? (Sorry folks I couldn’t resist that one….LOL!)

  82. Papilio May 29, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    “Perhaps [the people who found an infant in the road where s/he could be run over by a car] were running late for work, or a funeral, or maybe they wanted to get home to watch a TV show. It doesn’t matter how shallow their excuse, the child was not their responsibility.”

    Civilization anyone?

  83. Warren May 29, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    The last idiot would leave the child outside in the rain waiting for permission to put the kid in the car, from a dispatcher. That tells me just how weak a person they are. And there’s no excuse for cowardice and weakness.

  84. AntagonisticThinker May 29, 2015 at 10:57 pm #

    Whatever. Its because of you people here who expect someone else to be responsible for your child, that we have all these crazy stories about parents getting in trouble for letting children free-range. Once you start expecting to people to take care of your child, then don’t be surprised when they take care of your child how they see fit, including calling the police for children playing alone in the park or whatever. If you expect me to be responsible for your child, then I’m going to expect your child to follow my rules, not yours. I still maintain given the situation, that the best course of action would be to immediately call the police. If you want to keep your right to free-range, then don’t expect anything of anyone else.

  85. Warren May 30, 2015 at 9:02 am #

    Are you really that ignorant?

    Please put some sort of identification on your vehicle so we know it is you. That way we can ignore you when you need help. Because how dare you make us responsible for you.

    So shallow, so self-centered and in desperate need of therapy. Jackass.

  86. Brent June 3, 2015 at 8:08 pm #

    Reminds me of a story my parents tell me. When I was a toddler in the early 80’s I wondered down the street before anyone realized that I was gone. The UPS man saw me and “delivered” me back to my house. While there was a moment of panic, we all laugh about that episode now. But if that series of events happened now, I could have possibly grown up with a different family if CPS decided my parents were unfit.

  87. Rachel June 4, 2015 at 6:22 am #

    It’s likely the police were incentivized to take punitive action against Grandma. Remember that in many communities, the police are expected to generate fees, fines, and civil forfeitures to keep the police, and the town in business. Police are often given raised and promotions based on how much income they generate, not how helpful they are to the community.
    What gets measured is what gets done. The Supreme Court has ruled that police are in fact under no obligation to “protect and serve” – combine this with the idea that the cops are revenue-generators, and you end up with an army of bullies who see every encounter with the public as an excuse to lock somebody up.