by: Holly Maynard Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Family members say a 6-year-old girl spotted by drivers walking alone in the rain on Interstate 77 early Tuesday morning is doing OK.
Around 5:40 a.m., a driver called 911 after seeing the girl. Soon after, Eyewitness News employees heard the girl's mother talking to emergency responders on our newsroom scanners. She said, "Yes, I have a question. Our daughter was found walking... A police officer has her at Northlake Mall. Is there any way you can confirm please?"
Eyewitness News heard that call on a radio frequency that only emergency personnel have access to. It turns out the girl's mom works for Medic and was working when she got a call about her daughter. It's not clear who called her.
Eyewitness News also heard the police officer who found her on the radio. "I'm going to be transporting a 6-year-old child from 77 and Harris to an apartment complex nearby to figure out where she lives," he said.
By car, that apartment complex is about a mile from where the girl was found. But it's not clear what route she took and how long she had been walking.
Eyewitness News anchor Holly Maynard went to the apartment complex and talked to the girl's father, Antonio Patillo. He didn't want to go on camera. But through his tears he said he opened the front door early Tuesday morning to go out to the mailbox. He thought his daughter was still sleeping, but she must have left the apartment then, and he had no idea.
The news baffled people who drive on 77 in the morning.
"I don't even understand how the child got from its home or wherever it was at to 77. That's crazy," said Arnetta Drake.
Eyewitness News was told the little girl was not hurt. Patillo was cited for misdemeanor child neglect. Police said he could be fined or face something harsher. It will be up to the D.A.