By: Kayla Bremer
Lincoln Police say the mother of a toddler found wandering by herself overnight has been cited for child neglect.
They were called to Russ's Market on 17th and Washington where the 2–year–old girl was taken after she was found walking along 16th street by herself around 3 a.m.
A couple driving by spotted her, got out of their car and walked with her to Russ's where they turned her over to an employee.
"For the most part she was scared," Russ's Employee Steffani Weirauch said. "She wouldn't really talk to anybody. Once I picked her up, she wouldn't let me put her back down and all she kept asking for was her mommy and she kept saying she wanted to go back to the street."
Weirauch says she colored with the little girl and bought her food and something to drink while they waited for police.
"She was unable to provide employees or the officers with her name or where she lived," Officer Katie Flood said. "The department contacted a local media and checked the area, but could not locate the child's family. She was ultimately turned over to Health and Human Services."
Police say the mother, 21–year–old Danielle McNally, was hysterical when she woke up at seven this morning and couldn't find her daughter. She called 911 and that's how police knew where the child belonged.
McNally was ticketed and released Monday morning for child neglect. The little girl, who was not hurt, was taken into protective custody while police investigated the incident.
Weirauch has a child herself. She says she can't imagine waking up to a missing child and is thankful the little girl was brought to her that night.
"In the middle of the street like that...like downtown especially in that area she could have been kidnapped...anything could have happened," Weirauch said. "They're lucky that people got her into our store."
This isn't the first time a child has been found wandering outside in the middle of the night. In June, a 2-year-old girl and her dog were found walking by the Sun Mart at 16th and South. In that case the mother was also ticketed.