NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH)– A father was arrested after his toddler was found abandoned in a stroller on a New London street Monday evening.
Police say just before 7 p.m., a Good Samaritan, identified as Brennan Ward, an MMA fighter from Waterford, saw the stroller in the area of 268 Bank Street, as he was pumping gas. Cars were swerving around it.
“You know they were almost like fighting one another to get around the stroller and as I’m running over I’m watching this and I’m thinking who wouldn’t stop to look… like what are you doing,” says Ward.
He then brought the girl, who appeared to be 2 to 3-years-old, across the street to the fire department headquarters.
“She was actually sleeping when she was brought over and we kind of woke her up a little bit and checked her out and made sure that she was okay,” says firefighter Nicholas Brown. “There was no injuries.”
The child was subsequently taken to Lawrence and Memorial Hospital for safe-keeping and for a minor exposure evaluation to make sure she was not injured during the incident.
“People should know that these guys are constantly out there over seven thousand calls a year,” says New London Fire Chief Henry Kydd.
Police later identified the toddler’s father as 25-year-old Matthew Simpson, of Norwich. Witnesses reported that Simpson had been drinking for most of the day in New London, prior to the toddler being found. Witnesses also told police that Simpson was last seen in the area of 33 Tilley Street with the stroller.
Police say just after 7:30 p.m., a highly intoxicated Simpson was found in the bathroom at Union Station in New London. He was charged with risk of injury to minor and held on $25,000 bond. His court appearance was on Tuesday.
“I believe a tragedy was prevented by the citizen, the police department, and the fire department in New London,” says Jeanne Millstein, New London’s Human Services Director.
“I think anybody would have done it you know,” says Ward. “Obviously not some of the cars swerving around it but most people would stop to see what’s going on.”
Police say the child’s mother, who lives with Simpson, told officers that Simpson was supposed to be babysitting the child and that the child was in his care since 12:30 pm.m. DCF was notified and will open their own investigation into the incident.