A Georgia locksmith made a shocking discovery when he unlocked a young woman’s car.
According to 11Alive and Mad World News, Volley Collins from Ace Lock & Safety was called to unlock a car door for 18-year-old Grace An. She allegedly locked herself out of her car by accident.
However, the call was not actually placed by An, but by a concerned resident of the area who became suspicious when An began knocking on doors in the neighborhood, asking to borrow a phone to call the locksmith.
When Collins arrived at the scene and unlocked the car door, he says he heard an unusual sound coming from the back seat. He shined his flashlight on the back of the car and didn’t see anything until he looked at the floor of the car. That’s when he made a disturbing discovery — An’s 16-month-old son was taped up with cellophane packing tape and left on the car floor.
The tape was wrapped around the toddler’s wrists, ankles, and face, to cover his mouth, reported 11Alive.
According to the Hall County Sheriff’s Office and witnesses, the mother drove her car to the dead end of a street, where she parked the car. She then locked up her toddler in the car and reportedly walked down to Lake Lanier, where she sat for hours.
After it got dark, the young woman walked to houses in the neighborhood and knocked on doors, asking to use residents’ phones to call a locksmith. She told each resident that her keys were locked in her car, but made no mention of her son also being inside the vehicle.
Most of the residents the woman spoke to reportedly refused to let her into their home, but one person did call a locksmith, while also calling 911 to report a suspicious person.
Collins arrived before a Hall County sheriff’s deputy and investigators say he likely saved the toddler’s life.
"I unlocked the car, reached in to get the keys out, and I heard a baby crying in the back seat," Collins told 11Alive. "I took my flashlight, looked back there, sure enough, there’s a baby in the back seat."
Collins said that he likely would not have noticed the baby if he had not heard him crying. He said the baby was on the back floorboard, out of view, and An never mentioned that he was there.
According to the locksmith, when the deputy arrived, he immediately cut the tape off the toddler and handcuffed the young mother.
A spokeswoman for the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Nicole Bailes, said An spoke to investigators but never explained why her son was taped up or why he was locked in the car. She also never revealed what she planned to do next if she hadn’t locked her keys in the car, reported 11Alive.
“Speculation on our part was that there would be a tragedy involving the lake, ultimately,” Deputy Bailes said. “Obviously we’re going to factor in the mother’s age, and the fact that she has a 16-month-old child that she’s trying to raise on her own. That, in itself, is going to cause a lot of undue stress for a single parent. And so, again, without speculating, we’re going to tie that in as a factor as to the possibilities of what her mindset was … I feel like if that child had been there much longer, then, yes, a tragedy would have been the outcome.”
An has been charged with first degree child cruelty, reckless conduct, and false imprisonment, 11Alive reported. According to Bailes, other charges are still possible as the investigation continues.
An is currently in Hall County jail and her son is in the care of the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services.