A Carlton father was arrested last Friday morning after his one-year old child was found alone crawling along the fog line on a stretch of Hwy. 72, just before the Elbert County line.
Timothy Robert Pickens, 37, was charged with reckless conduct, obstruction and cruelty to children.
Charges are also pending for his wife.
Bryant Collins, of Oglethorpe County, was coming back from Elberton hauling a car when he spotted the baby near the white line on Hwy. 72, in the first big curve after the bridge.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Collins said. “But my foot just mashed the brakes and I jumped out to grab the baby. I thank God nobody was behind me, ‘cause I didn’t even look.”
While Collins was calling 9-1-1, a woman came around the curve and Collins flagged her down. She hopped out to help.
“She thought I’d struck a dog or deer or something at first, and I said ‘nah, I found a baby on the road,’” said Collins.
She also called 9-1-1.
Collins said the baby girl stopped crying when he picked her up. She was covered in what appeared to be ant bites and scratches, but otherwise seemed OK.
Department of Natural Resources ranger Shane Sartor arrived first, followed by deputy Josh Fowler, EMS personnel and others.
While they were waiting, Collins said he sat in his vehicle with her and played some gospel music on his phone to the child, who settled right down. Later, as things got more excited, she became agitated, so he showed her a Spongbob Squarepants cartoon on his phone to help keep her calm.
Collins, a father of five mostly grown children, took it all in stride.
“It’s a blessing to me and I’m happy to receive it,” he said of being in the right place at the right time. “I believe He’s blessed me in my life so I can be a blessing…I don’t believe in coincidence.”
Collins is currently out of work on medical leave and said he was hauling a vehicle from Elberton to a garage in Athens as a way to make a little extra money.
He said the whole experience still seems a little surreal. And he doesn’t judge the baby’s parents.
“This was a lively little baby,” he said. “I don’t judge them or know that this was negligence.”
Collins will be recognized for his assistance of the baby at the county commissioners’ June 30 meeting, according to BOC chairman Anthony Dove.
A DFCS worker and EMS were also called to the scene.
According to the incident report, Fowler turned around to see a white male (Pickens) walking down the hill screaming “that’s my child.”
Fowler told Pickens to stop and wait for the child to receive medical attention. Pickens continued to scream and continued to approach.
Pickens then pushed Fowler out of the way in an attempt to take the child from Collins, who was still holding her.
Pickens was then handcuffed and placed in the back of patrol car.
EMS arrived and began to evaluate the child’s many insect bites and scratches all over her body, according to the report.
The child’s mother also arrived with three other children. Fowler asked her how the child would be able to make it to the road without them knowing it.
She said she and her husband had left their home with their 13-year old watching the baby, along with a 9-year-old and a 5-year-old.
She said she was outside for about an hour with her husband loading up cans and when she came back in the residence she noticed the child missing and began to search. After they could not locate the child, they called Madison County E-911 for assistance.
Officers checked the terrain the child would have had to travel to get to the road and determined that due to the terrain and tall weeds, the child must have been missing longer than an hour to have gotten so far. It appeared the child had also fallen down a 15-foot embankment before landing on the side of the highway.
The DFCS caseworker interviewed both parents and decided to turn the child over to her mother to get medical treatment.
Pickens was taken to jail and warrants were to be issued for the mother as well at a later date.
In a similar incident, Charles Ronald Smith, 21, of Danielsville, was charged with reckless conduct and cruelty to children in the second degree (criminal negligence) after a neighbor on Stone Ridge Drive found his 3-year old on his porch unattended. Officer Josh Fowler went to the scene where he met with the neighbor who said he had tried knocking on the door of the home for a long time with no result.
After he could not get anyone to the door he went back to his residence taking the child inside out of the heat and giving her something to eat and drink before calling E- 911 for assistance.
After officers knocked on the door and the windows of the residence with no response, deputy Shawn Rhoades walked to the rear of the residence and located an open door. They went inside and located Smith asleep in the bed in the master bedroom. They woke him up and told him the child had gotten out of the house and went to a neighbor’s home.
He said he had been asleep for nearly four hours.
The child’s mother was called to come home from work and Smith was arrested.