Samantha Garcia was at a friend’s house to watch the Daytona 500 Sunday afternoon when she stepped outside to find out what was causing a commotion in the front yard of his house in southwest Wichita.
That’s when she first saw the 2-year-old boy, crying, frightened and bleeding heavily from his nose and lip.
“He was scared,” Garcia said. “I’ve never seen a child’s lip that swollen.”
While he shied away from her male friend in the front yard of the house in the 2000 block of West Rita, northeast of Pawnee and Meridian, “as soon as I came up, he put his arms up and climbed right up into my arms, no problem,” Garcia said.
He had road rash on his arm and two deep cuts on his face, she said.
Wichita police on Monday said the boy was riding in the back seat of his mother’s car when he unbuckled his seat belt, opened the back door and fell out. His 22-year-old mother didn’t notice he was gone until she arrived at her home in the 2000 block of South Hiram more than 1 1/2 miles away.
She then retraced her steps, and found him at the house on Rita.
The mother claimed she panicked when she got home and took out the child safety seat, and wanted to leave with her child immediately, Garcia said.
“We wouldn’t let her have him until we knew what happened,” she said. “The police were on their way.”
No one apparently saw the child fall from the moving car.
“That’s heartbreaking,” Garcia said. “This kid had run for lord knows how long. Two years old and running down the street, bleeding.”
He was taken to Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis for treatment and evaluation, Lt. Doug Nolte said. He was admitted for observation and placed in protective custody.
The mother has been questioned but not arrested, Nolte said. It is against state law to have a young child riding in a car without the use of an age- and size-appropriate safety seat, he said.
“He’s a bright little boy,” Garcia said. “He sat on my lap and played on the iPhone” until the police arrived.
“I’m trying to wrap my head around it all…imagine how scared this kid was.”