A Belgrade mother has been charged after her young son with special needs wandered away from home and walked more than five miles before a passer-by pulled him from a stream in Mount Vernon.
Melissa Godin, 31, of Belgrade, was issued a summons Tuesday morning charging her with endangering the welfare of a child, said Maine State Police Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance. The trooper also notified the Department of Health and Human Services.
“The parent didn’t realize he was missing until I brought him home,” Perkins-Vance said. The pre-teen child – Perkins-Vance declined to provide the boy’s age – was wet but otherwise uninjured during the ordeal. “This could have turned out very differently,” Perkins-Vance said.
The boy was near the Long Pond Storage Dam on Wings Mills Road when Patricia Stanton first came across him around 6 a.m. Monday. Stanton, dean of students at Maranacook Community School, was going to school early to catch up on some work. Stanton, 57, approached the child slowly as he walked in the middle of the road. Stanton said she could not drive around him safely.
“I beeped my horn,” Stanton said. “There was no movement.”
The walker, who Stanton soon would learn was a young boy, began putting his hands in the air and bouncing back and forth, as though dancing. “I was confused,” Stanton said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”
When Stanton drove past, she looked in her mirror and discovered the walker was indeed a child. She assumed he lived nearby and thought about driving on. The feeling in her gut made her stop.
“It didn’t feel right,” Stanton said.
Stanton went back, at which point the child was going down an embankment toward the water. She pulled her car to a stop and called 911.
Stanton got out of her car and tried to talk to the boy, but the child ignored her requests for a name. The boy went into the water and held on to the Wings Mills Road bridge as if he planned to walk under it. Stanton pulled him out of the water.
“One of his sneakers dropped off,” she said.
Stanton and the child sat on the embankment. The boy tried to tell her his name, but Stanton could not understand what he was saying.
“I could see he was a special-needs kid,” she said. “He said ‘momma’ and then ‘no.’”
The boy pulled off his other sneaker and threw it into the water. Stanton’s concern grew quickly.
“It was chilly,” she said. “I was cold in just that short time. I don’t know how he wasn’t shaking.”
The boy walked back up to the road and started walking toward a house Stanton hoped was his home.
The boy went over another guardrail and climbed onto a large culvert with a stream flowing through it. Stanton, who had been hesitant to forcibly hold on to the boy, grabbed his ankles.
“I tried to hold him back,” Stanton said. “He was trying to climb down over the front of the culvert where the water was going through.”
Stanton tried to wave down passing motorists while keeping the child from going over the culvert. Finally a young man driving a Jeep, whom Stanton could identify only as Brad, stopped to help lift the boy off the culvert. They put the child in the Jeep to keep him warm. Stanton said Brad’s presence offered tremendous comfort and relief.
Perkins-Vance, who recognized the child, said he had walked more than five miles.
Craig Crosby can be contacted at 621-5642 or at: