RINGGOLD, CATOOSA COUNTY, GA (WRCB) - A Ringgold woman found a toddler covered in mud and crying outside a local park.
Police say the girl's mother left her in ditch so she could find a new home.
"I wasn't even supposed to be there, I could have turned left but God told me to go straight, so I did," said 20-year-old April Simerly, who made a wrong turn Tuesday night and then the startling discovery.
"All she had on was a diaper and some blue jean shorts and she was crying," said Simerly, "she had mud on her where it had been raining, like she fell."
The two-year-old girl was walking alone in the grass outside a downtown Ringgold park.
"You could tell she had been out there for a while," said Simerly, "her little toes were wrinkled from the rain."
Simerly tells Channel 3 she saw a woman she thought could be the girl's mom.
"When I actually got to the girl I looked up to say something to the lady, to find out if that was her daughter or not," said Simerly, "and she was gone."
Simerly's hunch was right.
Ringgold Police arrived on scene, went door to door, and discovered 31-year-old Jennifer Haines. They say she entered a home on Sparks Street unannounced, and watched from the porch as Simerly found her daughter.
"She was crying for her mother and every time you would touch her she would yell, like maybe she had fallen and hurt herself," said Simerly.
According to police documents, officers confirmed Haines as the child's mother when they opened the ambulance door and the little girl yelled, "mommy".
Haines admitted to leaving her. She told an officer she struggles with an addiction to prescription medication and hoped her daughter would find a "nice" family to live with..
April Simerly hopes a better life is ahead for the little girl she can't stop thinking about.
"I hope she finds a very good home, whether it's with her grandparents or whoever," said Simerly, "somebody that will love her and take her in as their own."
The Department of Family and Children Services has placed the toddler in foster care. Her mother faces a list of charges, some drug-related, after officers found marijuana in her purse.