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Teen charged with child neglect after 2-year-old found on Charlotte street

Bernice Thomas was on her way to work before dawn Wednesday when her roommate spotted a 2-year-old boy walking into the street ahead of their car.

The toddler was looking around like he didn’t know where he was, Thomas recalled. She asked her roommate to stop and then went to help the boy.

“I asked, ‘Where’s your mom? Where do you live?’ ” Thomas recalled. The boy, who had on just a diaper and tennis shoes, kept asking for his mother.

Thomas wrapped her coat around the boy, while a man who arrived at the scene carried him to a convenience store across the street at North Tryon Street and Tom Hunter Road. Thomas called police.

Investigators took steps to search for the boy’s parents, including sending out a telephone alert to see if anyone had information about the child.

The search ended hours later after the child’s mother called 911 to say her son was missing, said Officer Keith Trietley, a spokesman for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Police have charged a teenager who was supposed to be baby-sitting the boy with misdemeanor child neglect.

Records show Sharon Reene Cuthbertson, a relative of the toddler, lives in an apartment complex not far from the spot where the boy was found.

Cuthbertson, who turns 17 Thursday, was in the Mecklenburg County jail early Wednesday night. She is scheduled to make her first court appearance Thursday.

The child’s parents aren’t likely to face charges, Trietley said Wednesday afternoon.

Thomas made the first 911 call a little before 4 a.m. Wednesday as she was on her way to work in Concord.

As the car stopped at a red light near Tom Hunter Road, Thomas’ roommate saw the toddler in the street.

“The first thing I thought is: ‘Where is this baby’s mother?’ ” Thomas said.

Thomas said she didn’t grab the boy because she didn’t want to scare him. But she took his hand and wrapped her coat around him.

A man who came on the scene agreed to stay with the boy at a nearby 7-Eleven until police arrived.

Hours later, Thomas said the incident still had her nerves “shook.” She said she worried the child could have been hit by a car or taken by someone.

“I’m glad we (saw) him first,” Thomas said. “I’m glad he’s safe, and I hope he continues to stay safe.” News Researcher Maria David contributed.

Bethea: 704-358-6013. On Twitter: @AprilBethea
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