Wandering children land a Heartland mom in trouble - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Benton, MO

Wandering children land a Heartland mom in trouble

Wandering children land a Heartland mom in trouble
By:  CJ Cassidy

A close call for two young children - after they wander onto a busy highway. The 25-year-old mother of those children now faces charges of Child Endangerment.

Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter says he found the kids on Benton's busy Highway 61, after a neighbor called 911. And if you think that's frightening, police say the rest of the story might shock you.

With three strikes against her, it's no surprise Michelle Cox of Benton went to jail. "The first time they were close to home; the second time they wandered a little further off.

We warned her severely then. This time it was way too dangerous the kids were in jeopardy and the general public was in jeopardy," Scott County Chief Deputy Tom Beardslee says.

The posted speed limit on Highway 61 is 35 miles per hour - police estimate a driver travels about fifty feet in a given second. They also say the normal reaction time for a driver to take his foot off the accelerator and hit the brakes is about three seconds - so a driver could travel about 150 feet in that time, a distance they could have easily crossed coming over a hill to where the children were allegedly playing on the road, Sunday morning.

"It's a very dangerous situation not to have control of your kids especially when they are three and four years old. They're out here with no coats on, in blue jeans and t-shirts and no shoes,' Beardslee says.

The Scott County Sheriff took the children away to safety and then tracked down Cox at her home on Mack Street. "When they asked her if she knew where her kids were, she said "I have kids?"" Beardslee says.

Now Cox's neighbors hope her arrest helps prevent a tragedy. "I chased them home one time, and said they should not be bicycling in the middle of the street. Their mom should be with them," neighbor Mike Ponder suggests.

So what can you do as a neighbor or concerned adult?

Neighbors say they felt guilty about reporting Cox to police in the past, but police say they did the right thing when they spoke up this time.

Also if you ever notice children in danger, get them out of harm's way as quickly as possibly.

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