Father charged after toddler found wandering the streets alone overnight

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LEXINGTON, Ky (WKYT) - The father of a toddler who was found wandering the streets alone and in his underwear overnight, is in custody.

43-year-old Herbert Tucker was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a minor, possession of marijuana and tampering with physical evidence. He pleaded not guilty to those charges in Fayette District Court Friday afternoon.

Police say someone called them after seeing the child on Duffy Court, off Camelot Drive, early Friday morning. WKYT caught up with that woman on Friday morning.

"I was shocked, couldn't believe it," said Lisa Gerlach. "He was just standing in the middle of the road, he could have been hit."

Gerlach says she talked the toddler inside her car to warm him up before officers arrived.

"He was shivering, just shivering and his nose was running," she explained.

She says the little boy told her he "was looking for his mommy" but couldn't tell her where he lived.

"I just felt so bad for him, but after I warmed him up, his mood definitely improved," she said.

When first responders arrived, they covered the three-year-old with blankets, and treated him in an ambulance before he was transported to UK Hospital as a precaution.

When police found the toddler’s father at a nearby home on Whispering Hills Drive, they say he was outside smoking marijuana.

According to a Lexington police lieutenant, the father told officers he was ‘celebrating’ that his missing son had been found. He also confessed to officers that he tried to hide a joint before they arrived.

Firefighters told police on scene that they thought the toddler's core temperature was in a safe area, despite being exposed to the bitter temperatures. At the time the child was found the temperature in Lexington was 26-degrees according to WKYT Meteorologist Micah Harris. Dr. Ryan Stanton, with UK HealthCare said at that temperature, even with layers on people, especially small children can be at risk for frostbite and hypothermia.

"At those temps it may only take 30-minutes to cause serious injury and a matter of a couple hours to cause death," Dr. Stanton explained.

Police say the child's mother was at the store buying cigarettes when her son some how got outside. When she returned home, police say, she couldn't find the toddler and that's when she started searching for him and called police. She will not face any charges.

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