METRO VANCOUVER â€” Police are crediting kind Surrey strangers for rescuing and attempting to identify a three-year-old boy who was struck in the face and then abandoned at a bus stop.
RCMP said several people called 911 around 11 a.m. on Saturday to report they had seen a man hit a boy in the face at a bus stop near 152nd Street and 64th Avenue.
The man, who appeared to be the boyâ€™s caregiver, then boarded a bus and left the child on the street, police said.
â€œThe boy was cared for by witnesses,â€ police said in a release.
â€œThe boy was not readily identified and as such witnesses used social media sites, distributing his photograph in an attempt to identify the boy.â€
Police were able to identify the boy and reunite him with his mother following an investigation.
Staff Sgt. Joe Johal said police arrested a man after receiving a phone tip from a citizen.
Lucy Ingram, an employee at the Berezan Liquor Store, helped care for the boy until police arrived.
It was â€œheartbreakingâ€ how the man treated the boy, she said.
â€œIt made me sick to my stomach, like he discarded him like he was a piece of garbage.â€
Ingram rushed outside to bring the boy into the store after one of her regular customers alerted her that a boy was playing alone in a field across the street.
The boy was wearing swim trunks, soaking-wet runners, a T-shirt, a summer jacket and a toque, according to Ingram.
â€œAs soon as he saw me coming, he put his arms up and I grabbed him,â€ Ingram said.
A customer went home and returned with a pair of sweatpants and a hooded sweatshirt for the boy, while Ingramâ€™s co-worker gave the boy her phone to play with in an effort to get him to speak.
Ingram said another customer took a photo of the boy, hoping to identify him through a community Facebook page while they waited more than an hour for police to arrive.
After the photo was posted, people who wanted to help packed the store, Ingram said. â€œThe amount of people that came in was just crazy.â€
The boy began to â€œopen up and start gigglingâ€ when a man came to the store with four toy dinosaurs for him, Ingram said.
â€œThe only thing he would say when we asked what his name was, heâ€™d say, â€˜Iâ€™m dinosaur.â€™ That was his name after that. That was all we got.â€
The boy remained at the store from about 10:30 a.m. until social workers retrieved him at 2 p.m., Ingram said.
â€œHe was very cute. It just broke my heart.â€
Police are recommending charges against a Surrey resident who is a relative of the child, though they wouldnâ€™t say what their relationship is. The man was released from police custody with conditions, and is scheduled to appear in court.
â€” with files from Canadian Press