ROOSEVELT, N.Y. — An 8-year-old girl who was seen walking alone and barefoot through a Long Island gas station parking lot late Tuesday night was found safe and unharmed in Queens Wednesday, police said.
A good Samaritan spotted the girl at the BP gas station on Nassau Road in Roosevelt around 10:20 p.m. and tried to talk to her but the child wouldn’t respond, Nassau County Police Det. Richard Lebrun said Wednesday during a briefing on the case.
Out of concern for her safety, police said the good Samaritan followed the girl as she crossed a bridge over the Southern State Parkway and then entered a wooded area along the parkway but she lost sight of the child and called 911.
Police launched a massive overnight search for the child, which included an aviation unit and police K-9 unit, but couldn’t locate her.
Upward of 100 officers and detectives were involved in the search, going door-to-door and from business-to-business looking for witnesses and surveillance video, Lebrun said. Investigators were able to put together a collage of photos and videos, tracking the girl’s steps through the overnight hours.
Police also closed the Southern State Parkway for about two hours while they searched the area near the highway to make sure the child wasn’t hiding in the woods or in a neighboring yard.
“We didn’t know — does this child have a cognitive disability? We didn’t know anything about this child,” Lebrun said.
Police then discovered a connection between a residence in Roosevelt to the home in Queens where she was found, according to Lebrun.
How the girl ended up in Queens remained under investigation. Lebrun said the girl did not walk the entire way to Queens, however, he would not elaborate further as the investigation was ongoing.
“The only reason why we found [her] is because of this good Samaritan, excellent police work and the media putting out notifications,” Lebrun said.
The girl is being cared for by adults in Queens, police said. It was not immediately clear whether anyone knew the girl was missing Tuesday night.