UTICA, N.Y.-- The mother of the baby found on Bleecker Street Friday night is speaking out, sharing her side of the story.
Ledrika Ford was charged with endangerment of a child after a viral Facebook video showed several drivers stopping their cars on Bleecker Street to remove a baby from the roadway. The next day, Ford's four children were removed from her custody by Child Protective Services and placed in foster care.
Ford said her aunt placed the baby in the car seat, but did not strap the child into the restraints. She claims her vehicle's passenger-side doors do not reliably close, and that the unrestrained baby fell from the vehicle when she turned a corner. She said all four of her children were in the vehicle when the incident occurred.
"I grabbed the two bigger ones and she grabbed the two small ones, we put them all in the car," Ford said. "I'm in the front seat, putting on my seat belt. I look in the back, everybody's in the car and the door looks like it shut. I pull off. I'm not thinking that my door is going to fly open and my son is going to fly out."
Ford said she turned the vehicle around and returned to the Bleecker Street area.
"I turn around, I parked right here and I jumped out of the car, and all I see was my baby," Ford said. "I said 'that's my baby,' and I grab my baby and I just panic. All my kids are in the car, they're crying."
Utica Police officials confirmed Monday night that a small head contusion was listed on their report for the infant, but no major injuries. Taking her story into account, police officials said they still have sufficient evidence to charge Ford with endangerment of a child.
The children will be appointed legal representation when the case goes to court on Mar. 23.
"If the older children were in the car, they may be spoken to," Julie Giruzzi-Mosca, a law guardian and attorney said. "If Mom is charged with either abuse or neglect of one child, she can also be charged with derivative neglect of the other three children."
Giruzzi-Mosca said the ultimate goal of family court is to keep families together.
"The department offers parenting classes, how to keep a home, to help them before they get to the point where they're in a situation where they're facing family court," Giruzzi-Mosca said.
"I think when you have an infant, we try very, very hard because of that whole issue of attachment and trying to encourage that, we try to have visitation on a regular basis," said Colleen Fahy-Box, interim commissioner of Oneida County's Department of Social Services.
Giruzzi-Mosca said the viral video in this instance is bringing attention to a widespread problem in Oneida County.
"You see the video and you watch it and you can't believe it happened," Giruzzi-Mosca said. "That one made the news. There's so many more that don't make the news of these children, that are wandering around unattended in the mall, outside, on the street. They just don't make the news, but it's more common than you would think."
The viral video has also resulted in Ford receiving threats over social media.
"People are writing me, threatening me on Facebook, saying what they're going to do to me," Ford said. "My mom is in Florida, she doesn't feel safe with me here, up where we are. Everybody's making it seem like I would do that, I would never do that to my kids, never. That's all I have."
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