Police: Mother forgot baby on car's roof - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Police: Mother forgot baby on car's roof

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Catalina Clouser Catalina Clouser
PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

A shocking discovery was made just before 1 a.m. -- a baby, strapped in a car seat, was found lying in the middle of a street and the child's parents were no where to be seen.

The 1-month-old boy was found in a car seat near 45th Avenue and Cholla.  Police say the baby was taken to an area hospital in good condition.

Authorities say a couple passing by the area called 911 about the baby in the street -- a few yards from Leilani Gerlach's front door.

"Obviously, the first thing we wanted to do was check to see if the baby was okay, there was no bumps, scratches, bruises..he seemed perfectly fine all snug, just strapped in his little car seat," she said.

While officers were investigating the scene and interviewing witnesses, they were told the name of the child's mother, who later arrived at the intersection.

Officer James Holmes said the investigation revealed that the witnesses, the suspect, 19-year-old Catalina Clouser, and her boyfriend had been smoking marijuana earlier in the evening at a nearby park.  

"The suspect's boyfriend and the suspect, along with her baby, left the park to purchase beer at around 11:00 p.m. The boyfriend was stopped by Phoenix officers and arrested for aggravated DUI after he was suspected of, and processed for being impaired while driving with the baby in the vehicle," said Holmes.

According to the police report, officers learned that the Clouser was upset over her boyfriend's arrest.  She drove to the area of 4500 W. Cholla Street and admitted to smoking one or two additional bowls of marijuana with her friends.  According to the friends, she left the area with the baby.

Holmes says it appears that Clouser put the baby on the car's roof and drove off, forgetting he was still on the roof.  When she arrived home and found that the baby wasn't in or on the car, she feared he'd fallen from it and realized her mistake.

Police say Clouser admitted to what happened and she was booked into jail for one count of aggravated DUI and one count of child abuse.

A neighbor told FOX 10 the baby was wearing only a diaper and seemed hungry.  He was taken to an area hospital and placed in the custody of Arizona Child Protective Services.

Police did not release the boyfriend's name.

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