A 3-year-old girl was placed into protective custody after a Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputy found the child wandering around a rural road near Guerneville alone but for two dogs, sheriff’s officials said Monday.
The sheriff’s investigation revealed that the child had wandered nearly 1 mile from her family’s home off Mays Canyon Road, a narrow road that loops off Pocket Canyon Highway, Sgt. Cecile Focha said. The child’s mother’s 18-year-old stepson was supposed to be watching her but the teen told authorities that he was distracted on a computer and at some point noticed the child was missing, but did not know how or when she left the house, Focha said.
The deputy on patrol came across the child at 8:25 p.m. with two unleashed dogs standing in the middle of the one-lane road wearing only a short white dress and pink sandals. The sun set at 8:11 p.m. in the area, according to the U.S. Naval Observatory.
The deputy put the girl and one of the dogs in the patrol car and tried to learn where she lived, but the child could not tell him, Focha said. The other dog became aggressive and ran away.
Authorities asked for the public’s help identifying the child with an automatic “City Watch Alert” telephone call. An hour later, a relative of the child called dispatch. The woman said she and the girl’s father were in Santa Rosa at a concert and they had received phone calls from the teen saying that he couldn’t find the girl.
Another couple called the Sheriff’s Office and said they had found the girl in the roadway before and had followed a dog to bring her home, Focha said. Late Sunday, the child was taken in by an emergency foster family arranged by child protective services.
The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office will review the sheriff’s investigation and determine whether the child’s parents or the 18-year-old boy who was supposed to have been watching her will face any charges.