Last month, a Kelowna child was reported missing and sparked a major search effort only to be found a few hours later sleeping in her grandmother’s bed.
On Wednesday, the police encountered the reverse of that scenario, discovering a child alone in a stroller outside Orchard Park Shopping Centre, with no parents readily evident.
Police were called to the southeast corner of the shopping centre, across from the Farmer’s Market area, yesterday afternoon, after passers-by found a toddler in a stroller.
The little boy, who appeared to be around two years of age, was in the shade of trees and appeared to be in good shape and was not in distress, said Const. Steve Holmes.
Initial news reports said the child was sweating profusely and not behaving normally but police say that was incorrect.
The child was found around 12:50 p.m. and when the parents were not located nearby, the people who found the boy called police.
Holmes said when officers arrived, almost 40 people were looking for the parents.
The B.C. Ministry of Children and Families was called and its officials took the child into care about half an hour later when the parents had still not shown up.
Just after 2 p.m., the child’s frantic parents arrived at the parking lot looking for their son.
Police were still at the scene and spoke with them about why the child had been left alone.
Holmes said both parents thought the other was taking the child to the mall when they split up to do some shopping.
When the parents met up in the mall at 2 p.m. they discovered that neither had the child.
Holmes said panic set in as the two raced back to where they had left the boy.
He said police determined it was an “honest mistake” and there was no intent to abandon the child.
Holmes said the police investigation is concluded, with the responsibility of the child’s disposition now in the hands of the children and families ministry.
Earlier this week, police had to break the window of a car parked in the Orchard Plaza shopping centre to rescue a baby that had been left in the sweltering car.
The child’s mother had gone into a store and left the child in the car.
The baby girl was taken to hospital but while her temperature was elevated, she was not injured.
The embarrassed mother, a 22-year-old Albertan woman, said she just went into the store for 10 minutes.
The incident prompted the police to once again issue a warning not to leave children or pets in cars, even with the windows open, in the heat of the summer.
That baby was also taken into custody by the ministry officials.