A Newport News woman, who police said abandoned her 4-year-old son on the shoulder of the Capital Beltway and then bumped him with her car as she drove off Tuesday night, was charged with felony child neglect and hit and run, Virginia State Police said.
Channoah Alece Green, 22, was arrested later that night about 90 miles away after she was involved in a two-car crash on Interstate 95 in Hanover County just north of Richmond, said Corinne Geller, a state police spokeswoman.
Green, who was charged with reckless driving in that incident, is scheduled to appear in Fairfax County court today on the charges involving her son, Geller said.
"He was trying to get back in the vehicle when she struck him, and then she drove off," Geller said.
Police are still investigating, but Sgt. C.F. Kincaid said the child explained that his mother was "upset with him."
"He wasn't sitting down [in the car] like he was supposed to," he said.
Kincaid said the boy, who was abandoned near Lee Highway in Fairfax County, appeared in "very good spirits" when he arrived at Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he was treated for bruises and cuts to his face that appeared to be scrapes from the gravel shoulder.
The preschooler was placed with Fairfax County Child Protective Services, police said. Geller said police were withholding his name, citing an ongoing investigation.
The county Department of Family Services cannot comment on specific incidents, but in such cases, a child is generally placed with an emergency foster family until the next of kin is found, said Catherine Wetherby, a department spokeswoman.
The incident is the latest of several involving mothers allegedly mistreating their children in cars. Cheryl Ann Brown was charged with abuse and cruelty to children this month after allegedly forcing two of her daughters, ages 8 and 10, to take turns riding in the trunk during an eight-hour trip from Alabama to Loudoun County in a car crowded with passengers.
Also this month, a 33-year-old Quantico woman was charged with child abuse for allegedly locking her two 5-year-olds in the trunk of her car as punishment for bad behavior in a store, Fredericksburg authorities have said.
In June, a Frederick woman told police her children wanted to ride in the trunk after a police officer saw her place her 9-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old friend in the trunk at a mall parking lot.
In Green's case, a driver on the Beltway called police about 10:10 p.m. Tuesday and said she had found the 4-year-old boy wandering on the side of the interstate near the Lee Highway overpass.
At the hospital, Kincaid, a state police officer for six years who once worked at a youth shelter, took the boy for walks around the emergency room. "He said he wanted to go for a walk. I took him for a walk," Kincaid said, adding, "Everybody at the hospital was making a big fuss over him."
A nurse gave the boy ice cream, and a state trooper bought him toy action figures from the nearest drugstore, Kincaid said. "The trooper promised to get him a Power Ranger. The best he could do was Donald and Goofy. They had on parachutes. The little boy liked them very much," he said.
The child was very polite, Kincaid said.
Carolyn Walker, 57, a neighbor of Green's, also described the child as polite and talkative. "He is so sweet. He always comes right up to me. He's a bright child," she said.
Walker said she knew Green and her son only as passersby on the sidewalk in the same apartment complex, but their brief meetings were always pleasant. "She seems to have a wonderful family. She's very nice," Walker said.
Green could not be reached. The Hanover jail would not take messages, and her voice mail at a home number was full. The greeting on the voice mail was made by Green and her son, opening with the boy saying, "Praise the Lord," and ending with mother and son urging callers to "have a blessed day."