Two Mesa girls, ages 4 and 1, one clad in pajamas and the other only in diapers, were returned safely to their home Tuesday afternoon after being found wandering near Mesa Drive and East Second Street.
Mesa residents Mike Crowell and Ginna Hampton were each driving in the area when they spotted the girls shortly before 4 p.m. and stopped.
"The little one was getting ready to step off the curb onto
Mesa Drive and her sister pulled her back," Crowell said. "I can’t believe people leaving their kids unattended."
As officers tried to coax the older girl, Faith, into giving them her name and address, Crowell loaned a T-shirt to the younger child and Hampton donated a pair of child’s sweatpants.
"The older girl said something about waiting for her dad and getting on a bus," Hampton said, as she held the younger child, Nicki.
When the younger girl started crying, Hampton said she gave her a pen adorned with sparkles and a feather to cheer her up.
"There was no way I wasn’t going to stop," Hampton said. "I’m supposed to be at an MRI right now, but, oh well."
Eventually, passers-by recognized the girls and directed Sgt. David Meicke and officer Robert Brown to a nearby apartment complex.
After nobody answered the door, Meicke and Brown found it unlocked and entered shouting "Mesa police."
Moments later, the girls’ mother, Bernadette M. Flores, came downstairs.
"We talked to mom and apparently she was asleep," Meicke said. "She said dad was supposed to be watching the kids, but he’s nowhere to be found. Apparently, the kids let themselves out of the house."
A month-old baby and a roommate also were sleeping, Meicke said.
Despite the children’s wandering, Meicke said the case likely will not be forwarded to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for charges because it doesn’t rise to the level of child neglect.
Officers will notify Child Protective Services about the event, and it will be up to state officials to determine if action should be taken, Meicke said.
The mother, 22, said she told Faith not to go outside.
"She’s mad because I told her I’m going to spank her," she said.