A New York mother was arrested on a child endangerment charge after neighbors reported seeing a 4-year-old boy left alone on a sidewalk, his toddler leash tied to a bush, police say.
The single mother didn't want to miss a day of work at her babysitting job Tuesday morning, but also had no one to watch her own son, her sister told NBC 4 New York.
So Mery Quinde-Castro, of Rockland County, brought her son to work at the Blueberry Hill apartment complex in Spring Valley, her sister Rosa said. When she went to take out the trash, she took the boy along with her but he refused to come back into the building.
Police said that's when she tied his plush backpack toddler leash to a bush and went back in to tend to the baby. She left him her phone so he could watch cartoons, police said.
"I don't think she understood the gravity of what had taken place," said Spring Valley Police Chief Paul Modica. "It could have been bad."
A neighbor called police after reportedly seeing the boy unattended for 45 minutes. The boy's mother said it was 10 minutes, police said. Either way, she was arrested and charged with misdemeanor child endangerment.
Her sister Rosa Quinde-Castro, who frequently watches her nephew, said the boy is hyperactive and he needs the soft leash to stop him from running into traffic.
"She did nothing wrong. She is a good mother," said Rosa Quinde-Castro.
Police said the boy was well cared-for and happy, and there were no signs of abuse. They called it a case of bad judgment.
"The kid could have disappeared, gotten hurt. It's not the proper thing to do," said Modica.
Rosa said her sister is working to support herself and her son after the boy's father abandoned the family. She said Mery, who's visibly upset in her mugshot photo, would never do anything to hurt her son.
Mery Quinde-Castro was released on $2,500 cash bail. She left the courthouse to pick up her son afterward, relatives said.