A toddler spotted by sisters returning from dinner is back with his parents after wandering the streets east of Hemet by himself late Sunday night, sheriff's officials said.
Just before midnight, after two of the sisters dropped off the third at her Valle Vista home, they noticed something small moving eastward in the westbound lane of Highway 74 near Fourth Street.
'I said, 'is that a dog?'" recalled Sofia Espinoza as the sister driving, Analeen Magana, switched on the car's high beams and they realized a toddler was walking in the right lane.
Magana slammed on the brakes and called Evans as Espinoza, a high school student, jumped out and approached the barefoot child. To their concern, he bolted across Fourth Street, with Espinoza and Evans giving chase, and catching up to the boy near the entrance of a store already closed for the night, they said.
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Magana had already called 9-1-1, and the sisters wrapped the toddler in a blanket donated by a neighbor before a deputy arrived. Evans grabbed her cellphone camera and recorded Facebook video of the deputy cradling the toddler. They figured his age at about 18 months, and he spoke a few words, responding when they asked about "mommy," but unable to point them toward his home.
Hours later, the boy's parents called police to report their child missing, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said. The boy was reunited with his parents and no charges were filed.
It appeared the toddler had found a door and gone exploring after dad fell asleep while mom was working a late-night shift, Evans was told by a deputy.