Daycare toddler wanders onto highway; provider appeared drunk

5:34 AM, Jun 14, 2013   |    comments
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SANDSTONE, Minn. - A toddler's parents are grateful their daughter is home safe after people found her in the middle of State Highway 23 instead of at her nearby daycare.

Patrick Matson tells KARE 11 he was stunned to hear the news that Kaylee, his 22-month old daughter, almost got hit by a number of vehicles Wednesday afternoon, according to the Pine County Sheriff's Office.

"(I'm) glad she's still here, not injured," he said.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services has temporarily shut down the daycare, which is licensed with the state and the provider could be charged with neglect or child endangerment as soon as Friday.

"If this child would have been hit, it would have been horrible. This is a busy state highway," said Sheriff Robin Cole.

Cole says his deputies received 911 calls from neighbors saying a little girl was in the middle of the street.

Once on scene, deputies knocked on doors for about thirty minutes until realizing the girl was supposed to be at the daycare about a block away.

When they arrived, they allegedly found the daycare provider was intoxicated and the outside gate wide open where nine other children were playing.

"I'm more happy that she's safe. There's anger there, I'm just happy that's she safe," said Matson.

She is safe in part because of 13-year old Devin Baber who was painting his scooter with a friend nearby when he heard a horn honk and saw the girl walking in the street.

"I asked her where her mom was and where she lived and she pointed at her shoes and said dirty and she started smiling and laughing. I picked her up and walked her over there," he said.

Over there was across the street at 69-year old Jerrelyn Chose's house.

"It's heart-wrenching," she said.

Chose says another vehicle pulled in front of the girl and the driver started honking his horn so an on-coming semi would know to slow down.

"If it wasn't for that man in that pickup truck who pulled right in front of her, honking his horn at the semi truck, the semi truck would have hit her," she said.

After calling 911, Chose and Pine County Sheriff Deputies knocked on a number of doors until realizing the girl belonged at the daycare about a block away. When they returned the girl, the woman apparently had no idea she was missing.

"She almost got hit by a semi and a truck and she didn't even seem worried about it," Chose recalled. "She didn't seem to really care."

Chose wants the daycare shut down because often times she claims she would see children out in the playground area unattended.

"The kids are always all alone. Nobody is watching them, they play, they fight, they climb trees, they ride bicycles," she said.

The daycare provider has not been arrested. The sheriff says that is not unusual.

It is KARE 11's policy not to name a suspect until that person has been charged, which could come any day in this case, according Cole.

KARE 11 called the daycare provider but no one answered the phone and you could not leave any messages. Nobody answered the door of the daycare either.

The girl's father wants the facility shut down permanently because he knows this story could have ended quite differently.

"That's not tolerable," he said."If she would have gotten hurt, you can't replace that," he said.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )

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