ATHENS — A 2-year-old toddler was found on the doorstep of a home in a remote area of the town of Athens on Sunday morning.
The woman who found him, Kara Wager, of Athens, called it “a miracle.”
The child, who was not identified by police, has been reunited with his parents and is unhurt, State Police Public Information Officer Steven Nevel said.
“The child is fine,” Nevel said. “He is 2 years old and he has been turned back over to the parents. There were two 18-year-olds who were babysitting him and he wandered out of the house.”
The babysitters, Nikko White, 18, and Andre White, 18, have been charged with endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, Nevel said. It is not known if the Whites, who are brothers, are related to the child, Nevel said.
“One of the boys walked out to get the mail. He can’t recall if he left the front door of the residence open,” Nevel said. “One of the 18-year-olds was playing a video game. They don’t recall seeing the toddler walk out of the house. They didn’t notice that he left the house until they got a knock on the door from police officers.”
The parents, who were at work at the time, have not been charged, Nevel said.
Nevel said the child wandered for about a tenth of a mile from his house in his footie pajamas. The area where Wager lives and the child was found, Willowbrook Falls Road, is a remote stretch. There is video surveillance footage of the property where the boy could be seen.
“It looked like he had been on their property for about 20 minutes,” Nevel said.
Nikko White and Andre White were issued appearance tickets and turned over to the custody of their father. They are expected to appear in court at an undisclosed date in January, Nevel said. Nikko and Andre White could not be reached for comment.
Wager was leaving her house to go out to her car to get her cell phone charger Sunday morning when she looked down and found the boy looking up at her.
Wager said the first thing she did was look around to see if a parent or another adult was on the premises, wandering around. She didn’t see anyone, so she called her husband, brought the child into the house and contacted police.
State police have not released the names of the parents or the address of the home.
Wager, who is a nurse, thinks the boy wandered a long way to get to her house and spent more time walking around her property. She differed with the police report of the boy walking a tenth of a mile.
“I’ve walked that before and he had to have walked maybe a quarter of a mile and up a very steep hill,” Wager said. “It’s quite a hike to come up this way, and there is no other way.”
Surveillance equipment on the Wager home picked up the boy as he walked back and forth on the front lawn, moving in and out of camera range, Wager said.
Wager’s home is bordered on one side by a 30-foot drop and is situated close to the vast Catskill State Forest.
The child, who has not been identified by state police, was too young to talk, but he managed to form one word that Wager clearly heard.
“He said ‘hello’ as he picked up the remote and held it to his ear,” Wager said.
To Wager, the boy turning up safely on her front porch was a holiday miracle, especially with a steep cliff nearby that the child could easily have walked over.
“It would have broken my heart if something had happened to him,” she said.