ST. GEORGE — Multiple police units responded to a retail store on River Road Tuesday night after receiving a call that a child was left unattended and the parents could not be located.
Shortly before 10 p.m., officers responded to the Ross Dress for Less store at 365 S. River Road on a report of a child that was in the store unattended, St. George Police Captain Mike Giles told St. George News.
Officers located the small boy who was approximately 5 years old but were unable to obtain very much information from the child on the whereabouts of his parents or the circumstances surrounding the situation.
An ambulance was also dispatched to the scene to check on the child’s physical condition “primarily as a precaution, similar to a welfare check,” Giles said. The child showed no signs of dehydration and appeared to be fine.
“They weren’t able to get ahold of the parents, and due to the child’s age we just wanted to make sure he was okay,” Giles said.
Initial reports indicated the child was in the store for at least 45 minutes before police were called but it may have been longer.
According to a witness, Cheryl Hall, who was shopping inside of the store while the incident was unfolding, the child was in the store for an extended period of time. She also said employees tried searching for the parents before calling police.
Hall also said the child had no jacket and was wrapped in a blanket when officers arrived.
She said the child looked “very small and very alone.”
A police officer brought the boy a McDonald’s Happy Meal just before he fell asleep by the front door of the store, still wrapped in the blanket, at around 11 p.m. Hall also observed one of the officers comforting the child until a caseworker arrived.
Giles confirmed that the Division of Child and Family Services was contacted by police and a caseworker responded to the store and took custody of the child as police worked to identify the parents.
The agency is typically contacted in situations such as this, Giles said, and they are tasked with making sure the child has temporary housing and is cared for.
The parents have been identified by police, and officers are following up on information to determine why the child was found inside of the store without a parent or caregiver present as well as the nature of the intent behind it.
“We know the child was inside of the store with adults at some point but what led up to the child being found by officers alone later is still under investigation,” Giles said.
Five police units responded to the store, along with an ambulance and a caseworker with the Division of Child and Family Services.
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