Child found wandering near traffic in Orlando's Thornton Park

- An Orlando woman is charged with child neglect after police say one of her children was found wandering a busy street alone.

A man who was out walking his dogs near the intersection of South Street and Summerlin Avenue spotted the three-year-old boy.

“I see this little boy come out from behind some buildings, run right out in the middle of the street and running straight toward me barefoot.,” said Jeffrey Michael Stelter.

Stelter said he expected to a see a parent close behind, but no one followed, so he chased after the kid, and brought him to a neighborhood dog park to wait for police.

“He says he’s really scared, he says he doesn’t want to go home, the police finally show up and he went right to the police officer,” Stelter said.

Officers say the boy’s mom, Esther Leefatt, eventually showed up at the park, too, and they arrested her for child neglect.

Police say Leefat told them a neighbor was watching the boy and his brother. 

“When we spoke to the neighbor the neighbor said that wasn’t how the story went.  The neighbor stated that she just said I’m leaving and didn’t mention anything about the children,” said Orlando Police Department spokeswoman Wanda Miglio.

According to a police report, the boys were left alone for hours and Leefat also told them she strapped the three-year-old “into a car seat in the living room to keep him contained” and left to go look at a car in Clermont. 

“It’s not a dog, it’s a boy,” Stelter said.

He said he’s glad he was able to get to the three-year-old before he wandered into the busy intersection. 

“An SUV going 35 mph hitting a little 3 year old? I don’t want to see that. And no kid should be in that position,” Stelter said. 

Both children are in the custody of the Department of Children and Families. 

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