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Carolina Vizcarra, 33, was accused of leaving her two-year-old daughter with two strangers – one of whom happened to be an off-duty police officer – at Miami’s Mercy Hospital, saying she was going to use the restroom. Police say she did not return.
Ms Vizcarra was arrested and later charged with one count of child abandonment, after detectives received a call saying a woman was looking for a baby girl. The caller provided a description of the girl that matched the one of the abandoned two-year-old.
“It’s not like I just left her,” she later told the police, according to an arrest report. “It’s a hospital and I was worried for her. I was thinking about sleeping on the streets, but not her.”
Ms Vizcarra was later released from jail under a special programme that helps low-income, non-violent offenders. At a bond court hearing, she described being homeless and a victim of domestic violence.
“I have lived in Miami for three years and I am homeless. I have family in California and I do not work. I do not have a work permit,” Ms Vizcarra was quoted as saying by CBS Miami.
The Miami police department had earlier tweeted the picture of the girl in question, asking for help in tracing her family members, adding she was “in good health”.
We need help locating the parents and/or family of the child ⬇️ who was dropped off by an unknown woman to an off-duty plain clothed police officer at a local hospital. The child appears to be 2yrs old & in good health. She is currently in #DCF custody. Call 305-603-6300 w/info pic.twitter.com/uolDzi0AWn
— Miami PD (@MiamiPD) October 12, 2021
The child later was taken in by the Florida Department of Children and Families.
The judge in the bond court said Ms Vizcarra should not have any contact with her daughter, but noted that she could be allowed supervised visits to the child under a separate case in dependency court.
Police continue their attempts to trace the girl’s family members, and it remains unclear who will eventually gain custody of the girl.
“We were able to get to the mom after she went to the hospital many hours later claiming that she left her daughter there,” police spokeswoman Kaina Fallat told reporters.
Police said Ms Vizcarra was lucky the stranger happened to be a police officer who was in plainclothes at that time.
“She hands off the child to this unknown man. Luckily he was a police officer and what was going through his mind was he went into police mode,” Ms Fallat said.
“We want to know what her mental state was. We want to know what she was thinking when she was handing off her child to this unknown man,” she added.