published Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

2-year-old abandoned in LaFayette Walmart parking lot

By Timothy Bradfield/Correspondent

LaFAYETTE, Ga. — A grandfather and grandmother have been charged with reckless conduct after police say they left their 2-year-old grandson sitting in a shopping cart in a Walmart parking lot and drove away on Sunday.

"It was awful," LaFayette Police Department Detective Sgt. Darin Kelley said.

When the toddler's mother found out what happened, she was "hysterical," Kelley said.

"My first thought was that I was going to kill my mother as soon as I saw her," the boy's mother, Teresa Santonastaso, said Monday.

Surveillance video of the LaFayette Walmart parking lot from Sunday morning shows the couple, Terry Wayne Templeton and his wife, Lisa Jane — Santonastaso's mother and stepfather — unload their shopping cart of everything but their grandson, Tristan Young, police said.

The man and woman then get into their car. Terry Templeton then gets out of the car, walks past the nearby shopping cart with the boy in it and goes back into the store, the video shows.

Within a few minutes, a customer in the parking lot sees the 2-year-old and carries him into the store.

Police said the Walmart manager made an announcement over the loudspeaker about a lost child, but Terry Templeton never came forward. Instead, police said, the grandfather exited the store and the couple drove away.

Kelley said that, 30 to 40 minutes later, the grandparents returned to the store.

The grandmother was questioned, but she provided no explanation for her actions, police said.

Terry and Lisa Templeton initially each were charged with felony child cruelty, but a Walker County magistrate lowered their charges to reckless conduct Monday morning, Kelley said.

The Templetons were released after posting $500 bonds Monday afternoon, records show. Neither could be reached for comment.

Tristan, who has spina bifida, sat unattended in the parking lot for about five minutes. The high temperature Sunday was 40 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

His mother said Tristan was doing fine, but tears came to her eyes when she thought of how things could have turned out.

"I am incredibly in debt to everyone that helped him," she said. "And I am very thankful that nobody took him."

Staff writer Joy Lukachick contributed to this story.

Timothy Bradfield lives in Walker County. Contact him at

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ouzzy88 said...


December 7, 2010 at 5:17 a.m.
ceeweed said...

You always see something new (and bizarre) at your friendly neighborhood Wal-mart.

December 7, 2010 at 8:51 a.m.

"My first thought was that I was going to kill my mother as soon as I saw her," the boy's mother, Teresa Santonastaso, said Monday.

The fruit doesn't fall too far from the tree... aye?

December 7, 2010 at 10:46 a.m.
saraw said...

I think the first comment on this news is to be thankful nothing worse happened to this young child. We can see through news accounts on a daily basis tragic outcomes of children who are left unattended. The remark about the LaFayette Walmart (roagmat) doesn't even come in to play in this news story. Quit beating that dead horse.

December 7, 2010 at 10:50 a.m.
PMac said...

What -- why was their charges lowered to reckless conduct??? Thanks to the good ole boys of walker county -- This is crazy -- The grandparents (if you want to call them that) should not be allowed around children.

December 7, 2010 at 11:15 a.m.
SavartiTN said...

It reminds me of the Mike Chase incident that happened a few years ago...the guy that owns Calhoun's and Copper Cellar restaurants. While on vacation in Delaware in 1995, he forgot about his 18 month old son who was in a car seat behind the driver's seat. It was a hot day and the baby died. He was eventually acquitted but his sentence is a lifetime of remembering. At least there wasn't a tragedy in this case.

Sometimes, people just forget the child. Nothing negligent. Nothing criminal. Happens all the time. My parents drove off and left me in a parking lot on a dark rainy night. They were so busy having a "discussion" that they didn't notice I was missing until they got several miles down the road. I waited patiently. They returned. All was okay.

However, I was mad at my little brother who had waved merrily (and silently) out of the back window as they drove away without me.

Anyway, Roagmat, maybe the "motive" is being able to get court fees and fines out of it. Governments have to make money any way that they can nowadays.

December 7, 2010 at 1:23 p.m.
rolando said...

That last para of yours is a sad commentary about our country and our government, savarti.

December 7, 2010 at 2:30 p.m.
chattdweller said...

ROAGMAT....Oh you're so right. Yes, it's "such a hole" that complete strangers immediately noticed and gladly took care of an abandoned child in their midst. Glass half empty much?

December 7, 2010 at 2:41 p.m.
dave said...

ROAGMAT.... Looks down long nose at those lowly beings that cannot afford to go the the mall and shop at the extra high priced stores. Give me a break.

December 7, 2010 at 5:40 p.m.
grandmastaj said...

Why am I not surprised rolando took the story and comments and turned into something political? Wow. Next you'll be telling us Obama told those people to abandon the child.

December 7, 2010 at 8:09 p.m.
DebiQ said...

It was an accident. It could happen to anyone. I'm glad their charges were reduced. I'm glad the child is okay. I'm sure the grandparents got into the car assuming the other grandparent got the baby. Then they forgot something, so grandpa went back in, probably to leave grandma in the car with the baby. The baby would have been in the back seat had he been in the car and the grandma probably assumed he was sleeping. When grandpa heard a lost child call, he would never have assumed it was his grandson because his grandson was in teh car with his grandmother. When he came back to the car, the natural assumption would have been that the baby was in the car. When they got home to unload him and realized they'd left him behind, they panicked and rushed back to the store. Fortunately nothing bad happened. It was an accident. If they were on drugs, drunk, or trying to abandon the child that would have been a completely different story, but they weren't. It was a NATURAL mistake. I pray that this doesn't haunt them forever.

December 8, 2010 at 10:13 a.m.
jojo29 said...

Reduced sentence, well thats why parents and grandparents get away with this s.... their is no excuse, i have 3 children and never ever ever have i left them somewhere. ive never forgotten my children, what moran forgets they have a child!! not to mention he walked right passed him to go back into the store, and they announced lost child on intercom!! what drugs are they on? then the judge reduces charges!! he walked by his grandson agian and grandma sat in car the whole time!!this world is crazy!!

December 18, 2010 at 10:44 a.m.
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