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Locksmith finds toddler bound with cellophane, tape in vehicle
Mother in jail, charged with child cruelty
1113CRUELTYGrace-An
Grace An

There are some things you can’t unsee, no matter how much you’d like to forget.

Volley Collins has been struggling with a scene he encountered Wednesday evening in a Gainesville area cul-de-sac.

The locksmith was called to Ahaluna Drive around 6:45 p.m. to assist someone who’d locked herself out of a vehicle. Collins said there was a woman sitting on the ground behind her car when he arrived.

“So, I looked to see what kind of tool I needed,” Collins said. “I unlocked the door, and reached in to get her keys, and I heard a baby crying. I took my flashlight, and there was a little baby lying in the floorboard in the back.”

Deputies arrived about the same time at the neighborhood street north of Gainesville, in reference to a 911 call about a suspicious person or vehicle.

They found a 16-month-old boy in the back of the vehicle — his mouth, hands and feet bound with cellophane and packing tape.

The child’s mother, Grace An, 18, of Gainesville, was charged with first-degree child cruelty, reckless conduct and false imprisonment, according to Deputy Nicole Bailes, public information officer with Hall County Sheriff’s Office.

Bailes said that earlier in the evening, An had walked to a home on Ahaluna Drive and requested they call a locksmith for her.

Collins said when he arrived on the scene, An was not acting unusual.

“She just was acting like someone who had locked her keys in her car,” Collins said. “There was no reaction on her part at all.”

Collins said An still showed no visible emotion when he saw the child and reacted angrily toward her.

“I popped my head out of the car, real mean-like, and said ‘you should have told me there was a baby in the car,’” he said.

Deputies rescued the boy and called for an ambulance. The toddler was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center. The child was treated and released from the hospital and placed in the care of the Division of Family and Children Services.

An was transported to the Hall County Jail, where she remains without bond. Further charges are anticipated, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators determined An was the one who bound the boy, according to Bailes.

“There’s no question as to how the child became bound by the tape and cellophane,” Bailes said.

Collins, who has been a locksmith for 30 years, said he couldn’t speculate as to what was going on with the mother. And, he can’t shake the memory of the little boy.

“He was crying,” he said. “It was just a whimper, but he was crying … I can still picture that baby all taped up.”

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