Mother charged after baby left at McDonald's

  • Follow Metro

An Augusta woman who left her infant in the parking lot of an Evans fast-food restaurant has been charged with first-degree cruelty to children and abandonment of child, authorities said.

Harriett Hornsby Thomas, 27, of the 2400 block of Norton Drive, was arrested Saturday after the child was found at the McDonald's at 4264 Washington Road, according to a Columbia County sheriff's report.

About 50 minutes after police received a call from a witness, Mrs. Thomas' husband, Christopher, came to the restaurant. He said his wife told him she had lost the child and remembered she had gone to McDonald's.

Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said neither parent notified law enforcement or called 911.

Though Mrs. Thomas was arrested, parents in other instances are often simply warned. There is no set criteria for charging an individual in such instances, Capt. Morris said, adding that investigating officers are given discretion in filing charges.

"We take into account everything surrounding the incident at the time," he said. "In the end, was the child's health and/or well-being jeopardized? That's the key."

That's why Mrs. Thomas was charged, he said.

"We're dealing with a 6-month-old left in a carrier, in a parking lot, in the middle of July for an extended period of time," Capt. Morris said.

Capt. Morris said he encourages the public to become involved if they witness such a situation.

"Exactly what occurred in this particular case is what needs to occur in every case," Capt. Morris said. "Take responsibility; get involved; and notify proper authorities.

"It's life or death."

Mrs. Thomas was released from the Columbia County Detention Center on a $27,000 bond, according to a jailer. The infant was turned over to her grandfather by the Richmond County Division of Family and Children Services, according to the report.

Reach Jenna Martin at (706) 868-1222, ext. 109, or jenna.martin@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (76) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
HillGuy
7
Points
HillGuy 07/15/09 - 02:31 am
0
0
Looks like we have another

Looks like we have another contestant competing with Ms Chavous for the Mother of the Year Award.

O_O
0
Points
O_O 07/15/09 - 02:51 am
0
0
Hillgoon is probably a lonely

Hillgoon is probably a lonely pickled hater with an inferiority complex who desperately needs to feel he's better than others. He picks the easy targets and spills his load of bile with great sarcasm, the ready tool of the creatively challenged, probably just to get a response. Narcissistic loser.

HillGuy
7
Points
HillGuy 07/15/09 - 03:00 am
0
0
nice to see that our local

nice to see that our local apologist for negligent parents who endanger the lives of their children is still awake.

O_O
0
Points
O_O 07/15/09 - 03:02 am
0
0
I seriously doubt those

I seriously doubt those arresting officers took into account ALL the facts surrounding that situation. They looked at the vulnerability of the baby, which obviously was significant and serious, and probably left it at that. I doubt they were all that interested in why it happened, which probably led to their using their "discretion" the way they did. Some cops just get really angry when it comes to little kids, and they don't always see things in their entirety after that. It seems a bit odd that Thomas, whose child was not injured at all, was charged with 1st degree child cruelty while Chavous, whose critically injured toddler was allowed to be in dangerous situations repeatedly, received a lesser charge. I suspect the difference is in the cops.

O_O
0
Points
O_O 07/15/09 - 03:03 am
0
0
Sorry to see that our local

Sorry to see that our local ignorant slanderer is still able to man a keyboard.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 07/15/09 - 03:38 am
0
0
KUDOS to Steve as well as the

KUDOS to Steve as well as the other CCSO investigators and depuites who worked on this case.

methree
0
Points
methree 07/15/09 - 04:17 am
0
0
someone tell me just how you

someone tell me just how you can LOSE a 6 month old,in a carrier, in a parking lot? why was the child out of her vehicle? she's lucky she didn't run over the child when she backed out!

Just My Opinion
5454
Points
Just My Opinion 07/15/09 - 05:23 am
0
0
The momma was probably

The momma was probably texting someone on her cellphone!

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 07/15/09 - 05:59 am
0
0
There's distracted and then

There's distracted and then there's severely reduced brain activity. This mom doesn't seem to have the brain capacity to drive, let alone tend children.

JohnQPublic
5
Points
JohnQPublic 07/15/09 - 07:30 am
0
0
Does she have post partum

Does she have post partum depression or some other mental problem? Why were the parents still allowed to take the child?

2tired2argueanymore
1
Points
2tired2argueanymore 07/15/09 - 07:32 am
0
0
I don't understand why

I don't understand why someone would be worried about the mother and her feelings in a situation that put a child's life in danger. The child cannot take care of itself and this was the responsibility of the mother, who has shown herself not to be responsibile enough.

everwonderwhy
0
Points
everwonderwhy 07/15/09 - 07:35 am
0
0
This is so sad. The mother

This is so sad. The mother obviously has some problems. I hope she gets the help she needs. Jail is not the answer in this case.

redapples
658
Points
redapples 07/15/09 - 08:36 am
0
0
Thank God they did charge

Thank God they did charge this mother. I heard enough circumstances that call for the action taken. No amount of excuses would forgive this action. I have kids. I work. I have been forgetful. I get stressed to the max, but you don't forget your 6 month old in a carrier in the parking lot of McDonald's in Georgia's July heat.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 07/15/09 - 09:04 am
0
0
Maybe she has a good excuse

Maybe she has a good excuse like she was texting someone and just forgot she was a mother. After all she was probably on the pnone while the kid was in the car anyway.

MJDW
0
Points
MJDW 07/15/09 - 09:12 am
0
0
Where is her picture?

Where is her picture?

calihali
0
Points
calihali 07/15/09 - 09:16 am
0
0
She needs to be accountable

She needs to be accountable for her actions regardless of the reason. If she is mentally unstable then she needs to be forced to get help. If she is simply negligent she needs to lose her children. This may sound harsh but the welfare of the innocent children is the main issue in this situation.

Tots
25853
Points
Tots 07/15/09 - 09:20 am
0
0
O_O@2:51am-I totally agree

O_O@2:51am-I totally agree with this post.

Fiat_Lux
15043
Points
Fiat_Lux 07/15/09 - 11:32 am
0
0
For the most part, you people

For the most part, you people are jerks who know absolutely nothing about this unhappy situation. This mother wasn't on the phone, texting, nor is she mentally ill. And clearly, she IS being held accountable for this completely uncharacteristic lapse. Without any attempt to minimize its seriousness or to excuse this failure at all, can you truthfully declare you never have done something completely on auto-pilot? Harriett is not a negligent mom and she doesn't live off taxpayers. The welfare of her children is in fact the main (and to her, the only) issue of concern, so trashing their mother and ruining life for their family isn't exactly in their best interest, especially given that this is a totally unique occurrence for them. They have a large support network of wonderful family and friends, and these children will be protected as completely as any child can be in this unpredictable, potentially dangerous world we share. This situation arose from a specific, singular lapse, and is not the result of habitual neglect, as so many of you obviously enjoy assuming. Just remember that you are accountable for what you say here, even if only the AC knows who you are.

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 07/15/09 - 11:41 am
0
0
This is very odd. I want to

This is very odd. I want to know more about what happened and why.

calihali
0
Points
calihali 07/15/09 - 11:44 am
0
0
Get real, Fiat Lux-we're not

Get real, Fiat Lux-we're not talking about leaving a purse in the parking lot. This is serious. As for the "large support network", where were they? I'm sure there must have been other incidents (maybe not quite as serious) that threw up a red flag. What do you think should be done - the system should just say "Oh, well, we'll give her another chance and hope it doesn't happen again"? The next time some speeding motorist might not see the infant carrier.

Fiat_Lux
15043
Points
Fiat_Lux 07/15/09 - 11:46 am
0
0
It really isn't anyone's

It really isn't anyone's business except those who are directly involved in it. Morbid curiosity about it is not only inappropriate, it's a little sickening.

Fiat_Lux
15043
Points
Fiat_Lux 07/15/09 - 11:50 am
0
0
Are you not a good reader,

Are you not a good reader, CaliHali? Did you not actually read what I wrote? If that is the case, or you simple aren't able to comprehend the sentence "Without any attempt to minimize its seriousness or to excuse this failure at all, can you...", perhaps you might refrain from commenting with such obtuseness. Your certainty is born of nothing more than speculation about people you don't know. Perhaps you might explore "getting real" yourself.

calihali
0
Points
calihali 07/15/09 - 11:50 am
0
0
What ever, Fiat Lux.

What ever, Fiat Lux.

calihali
0
Points
calihali 07/15/09 - 11:53 am
0
0
You would be surprised at who

You would be surprised at who I am, Fiat Lux. I think this will be my last post. I am accustomed to dealing with persons with much higher intellect than you. Have a good day.

calihali
0
Points
calihali 07/15/09 - 11:54 am
0
0
One more, Fiat Lux. "Neither

One more, Fiat Lux. "Neither parent notified law enforcement". Defent them some more, why don't you?

calihali
0
Points
calihali 07/15/09 - 11:56 am
0
0
Oops, fiat lux. I misspelled

Oops, fiat lux. I misspelled "defend". Wouldn't want you to think me illiterate.

justright
0
Points
justright 07/15/09 - 11:58 am
0
0
There's no defense. It can't

There's no defense. It can't be overlooked. She endangered her child's life in a completley negligent manner, for whatever reason, and should be punished for it. Don't make it a personal issue. Pray for them both. Thank the family for taking care of the child.

Fiat_Lux
15043
Points
Fiat_Lux 07/15/09 - 12:05 pm
0
0
You probably are correct that

You probably are correct that I would be surprised, if I actually cared who you are, Cali. More likely, upon finding out who you are, I would be astounded that, as convinced of your intellectual gifts as you appear to be, you are so inclined to presumption and unsupported conclusions. IMO, that isn't the mark of someone with wisdom, no matter how literate. In point of fact, thus far I haven't read that anyone advocates ignoring this incident and simply hoping for the best. I'm sure your comments may be missed by some. You also have a nice day.

calihali
0
Points
calihali 07/15/09 - 12:14 pm
0
0
Once again, "neither parent

Once again, "neither parent called law enforcement or 911". The father made the drive from Norton Dr. to the McDonald's (approx. 20 mins.). Also, I wonder how long the mother was at home before the father arrived home and realized the child was missing.

Fiat_Lux
15043
Points
Fiat_Lux 07/15/09 - 12:34 pm
0
0
Legitimate points, which

Legitimate points, which undoubtedly figured into the charges. However, perhaps she didn't realize what had happened until she went to take the child out of the car once she got home, and perhaps she told her husband the second she ran into their house, and perhaps, panicked, he raced to Evans as fast a he could. Undeniably, a phone call would have been the right thing to do. I seriously doubt, however, that either one of them ever considered the possibility that she had left the baby sitting in the parking lot.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs