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Deputies: Uncle left niece, 4, alone in car at Palatka Walmart

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PALATKA, Fla. – A Putnam County man was arrested Thursday evening after his 4-year-old niece was found wandering alone in the Walmart parking lot.

According to the Palatka Police Department, Edward Hars left the girl in an unlocked car parked at outside the store on State Road 19 while he went inside to shop. About 20 minutes later, she got out.

A passerby saw the girl roaming the parking lot by herself and brought her to the customer service desk. It wasn’t until Hars had left the store that he realized his niece was gone, according to police.

Though police have not yet learned the passerby’s identity, they praised the person for bringing the girl inside. “This quick action may have stopped the incident from being much worse,” police said.

Hars, 55, was arrested on a child neglect charge when he returned to the store to pick up his niece. Jail logs show he remains in custody at the Putnam County jail, where he’s being held on $5,000 bond.

The child has been returned safely to her family. The Florida Department of Children and Families was notified about the incident. 

About the Author:

A Florida transplant with Midwest roots, Garrett Pelican is the digital executive producer for News4Jax.