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Day care closed after toddler wanders onto highway, caretaker found drunk

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An in-home day care in Pine County was immediately closed Wednesday after a toddler walking down the middle of the highway went unnoticed by her intoxicated provider.

The Star Tribune reports numerous vehicles traveling on Hwy. 23 in Sandstone swerved to avoid hitting the nearly 2-year-old girl that wandered onto the roadway until a woman spotted the toddler from the window of her home.

The woman ran out and removed the girl from the roadway before calling authorities.

The Pine County Sheriff's Office canvassed the area to find the toddler's home and located the day care a block away, where numerous children were playing in a fenced area with the gate open.

Upon questioning the 56-year-old child care operator, a deputy observed signs of intoxication and performed field sobriety tests. Sheriff Robin Cole told the Star Tribune that the provider's blood-alcohol content was likely well above 0.08 percent, the legal limit to drive in Minnesota.

She was not arrested, but the caretaker could be charged with child neglect this week. A county child protection staff member remained at the day care until parents picked up their children.

The newspaper reports the provider is licensed to care for up to 10 children.

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