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N.D. babysitter charged after 3-year-old found wandering highway

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A Ramsey County deputy's discovery of a 3-year-old child wandering in the middle of North Dakota Highway 20 has led to an 18-year-old baby sitter being charged with neglect.

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Chelsea Walkingeagle of Grand Forks was arrested Wednesday and is expected to make an initial court appearance Monday.

State's Attorney Lonnie Olson said the deputy came upon the child Wednesday afternoon while driving on the two-lane highway, but that other vehicles had already stopped nearby. Authorities said the child was not injured.

Sheriff Steve Nelson said the deputy put the child in his vehicle, and Walkingeagle was found in the garage of an apartment about 200 yards away. Nelson said the child had been left in an apartment.

Olson said the child was alone for 20 to 30 minutes, while Walkingeagle was smoking marijuana with others. He said she was the only person charged with neglect because she was the child's baby sitter.

The child, who authorities did not identify as a boy or girl, was found just south of Devils Lake, a half-mile south of state Highway 20's intersection with U.S. Highway 2.

Walkingeagle remains in custody at the Lake Region Correctional Center in Devils Lake. Olson said he did not think she had an attorney yet. Messages left for her at the jail were not returned Thursday.

Child neglect is a felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

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