2-year-old abandoned in LaFayette Walmart parking lot

2-year-old abandoned in LaFayette Walmart parking lot

December 7th, 2010 by By Timothy Bradfield/Correspondent in News

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 timothyb2010@gmail.com