Police: Parents abandon child at Columbus gas station by mistake

A young boy who was abandoned at the Crown Gas Station on Friday was a victim of miscommunication, Columbus police said Tuesday.

Police Lt. Warren Dunlap of the Youth Services Division said the boy was with a family riding in two cars after attending a military graduation at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center. The mother was in one car but thought the boy, who recently turned 5, was riding in the second car.

Dunlap said the two cars were near Kennesaw, Ga., more than 130 miles away, when they realized the boy wasn’t in either vehicle.

“It turned out not to be intentional abuse,” Dunlap said. “It was a miscommunication.”

Dunlap said the family stopped at the 2262 S. Lumpkin Road gas station to use the restroom. The young girl who took the boy inside to use the restroom around 12:15 p.m. wasn’t his mother, he said.

While the boy was inside the restroom, the girl placed some drinks and sodas on the counter when a person from the second car came in and said the items weren’t needed. The girl left the items on the counter, but no one checked to determine whether the boy had left the restroom.

No family members were around when the boy emerged from the restroom. The manager of the gas station and other staffers tried to calm down the boy who was scared and started crying.

Two hours later, the mother called the police department in a frantic search for the missing boy.

“When they realized that the boy was not in either car, they started freaking out,” Dunlap said.

While talking to the boy, Dunlap said police learned that he had been riding in the car for a while before arriving in Columbus. The family was from the Missouri area.