The Short of It
Three-year-old Audrey and her car seat were abandoned at a Los Angeles mall this weekend, and no one related to her seemed to notice that she was missing until her grandfather in San Diego saw the little girl's photo on the news and called his son.
Audrey's parents are separated, and her mother lives in another state. The little girl lives in Los Angeles, but several family members help take care of her. One of the family members dropped Audrey and her car seat off with the valet at the Grove's parking garage and left. When no one came to claim the child, the parking attendants called the police, and the little girl was taken into protective custody.
Next thing you know, the child's face is all over the news as an abandoned child. That's when her paternal grandfather in San Diego saw his granddaughter on the news and called his son, Audrey's father. Immediately, the little girl's dad went to be reunited with her.
Apparently, the child's father was supposed to meet his daughter at the mall to get their picture taken with Santa. There seemed to be some confusion between the family member who dropped her off and her father as to where the little girl would be picked up. When her father couldn't locate her, he assumed that she had not come to the Grove, and he went home.
After the incident, Audrey's mother flew to be with her daughter. Audrey is now home safe and sound.
It's a hectic time of year for everyone, and that appears to be where the confusion happened. But the Department of Children and Family Services says it's taking the case seriously and plans to investigate whether it was "a family's harmless misunderstanding or a reflection of a more persistent pattern of abuse."
"There is a message here," agency spokesman Neil Zanville told the Los Angeles Times. "Things can get hectic out there. We hope parents are paying attention to their children during the hecticness of holidays."
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