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Sandstone day care provider accused of being drunk faces two charges

A Sandstone day care provider suspected of being drunk when a 22-month-old girl wandered away from the center and onto a nearby highway Wednesday was charged with two crimes on Friday.

Carrie Ann Richardson, 56, was charged in State District Court in Pine County with one count each of child endangerment and child neglect. Both crimes are gross misdemeanors punishable by one year in jail and a fine of $3,000. She is not in custody.

Authorities ordered Richardson’s day care closed Wednesday after sheriff’s deputies responded to a report that the child had been found wandering in traffic along Minnesota Highway 23 and found signs that Richardson was intoxicated.

Richardson, who was caring for 10 children, “stated that she had been drinking because she was having a bad day,” the complaint said.

Deputies responded to the area of Highway 23 and Oriole Street West at 3:41 p.m. on a report of child found wandering on the highway. A 13-year-old boy retrieved the girl from the highway and gave her to a woman who lives nearby. Deputies found the girl in the woman’s arms.

The deputies began a door-to-door search for the girl’s home and located Building Blocks Daycare about a block from where the girl was found. Deputies found an open gate to the day care’s fenced play area, which was being used by several children. Richardson was gardening near the play area.

A deputy asked Richardson how many children were supposed to be at the day care, and Richardson pointed at each, counting out loud until she reached nine. After the deputy asked Richardson if she was sure she wasn’t missing a young girl, she recounted the children and said she was supposed to have 10.

“The deputy then asked (the) defendant if she knew where the 10th child was and she stated: ‘No, do you?’ ” the criminal complaint said.

“The defendant appeared slightly confused, and her answers to questions were slow,” the complaint said. “The defendant’s eyes appeared slightly glossy,” and a sheriff’s sergeant detected the odor of alcohol.

A Pine County Health and Human Services social worker called to help with the child confronted Richardson about the odor of alcohol. Richardson said she drank cough syrup. When asked to produce the bottle, she gave the social worker a nearly empty bottle of prescription medication containing codeine.

After a breath test indicated a breath-alcohol content of 0.114 percent, Richardson said she had consumed three or four glasses of wine. When asked to produce the wine bottle, she went through the garbage before stating that she had lied and actually drank vodka, producing an empty vodka bottle.

“When asked if she felt intoxicated (Richardson) indicated that her head was a little foggy, but she did not believe that she was intoxicated,” the complaint said.

Richardson said the last time she saw the child in the play area was about 3 p.m.

A search of Minnesota court records found no other past cases against Robertson. Her next court appearance is scheduled for July 16.

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