A Norwich dad who is accused of abandoned his toddler in a stroller in a New London street on Monday night while he was drunk appeared in court on Tuesday afternoon.
A Waterford man who was pumping gas noticed the stroller near 268 Bank St. in New London just before 7 p.m. on Monday and found a 2- or 3-year-old girl alone in it, police said.
He then brought the little girl across the street to the New London Fire Department and firefighters who were returning from a previous call brought the little girl to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital to make sure she was not hurt.
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Police began investigating and officers were able to identify the child’s father as 25-year-old Matthew Simpson, of Norwich, and witnesses said he’d been drinking in New London for most of the day.
The last place witnesses reported seeing him before the Good Samaritan found his child on Bank Street was in the area of 33 Tilley St. and he had the stroller, police said.
When police found Simpson in the bathroom of Union Station in New London at 7:35 p.m., he was highly intoxicated, police said.
"He was just out," Simpson's friend Fabian Hernandez told NBC Connecticut. "We kept calling his name and nothing. He wouldn't respond to us... We kept telling him, 'yo, get up get up, you know, your kids here'."
Hernandez said he was with Simpson on Monday night when the father of the 2-year-old passed out.
Officers took him into custody and charged him with risk of injury to a minor.
Simpson appeared in court on Tuesday afternoon and the judge had some strong words.
"I get a lot of child abandonment cases, but this is "way up the line," the judge said. "Child found in middle of Banks Street. In the lane."
Simpson was initially held in lieu of $25,000 bond, but bond was increased to $99,000.
When police found the child's mother, who lives with Simpson, she said the child had been in Simpson’s care since 12:30 p.m. and he was supposed to be babysitting for the day.
The state Department of Children and Families was notified and has opened an investigation, according to police.
NBC Connecticut reached out to the DCF to ask if the child was back with her mother.
It's not clear if he has an attorney.