Police: Underdressed children left by mom in 10 degree weather - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Police: Underdressed children left by mom in 10 degree weather

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A 26-year-old woman is facing multiple charges after she forced her inadequately dressed young children out in the extreme cold and then left them on a busy road in an attempt to flee deputies, according to a police report.

Spartanburg County deputies said they received multiple 911 calls about a woman pushing a stroller and walking with two young children on Seminole Drive at about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.  Deputies said the woman pushed the stroller away and ran from the officers when they approached her.

"We just don't really know what motivated the mother to behave the way she did this morning," said Lt. Tony Ivey with the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office.

The deputies said the children were dressed in thin clothing, one did not have shoes, and they were violently shivering from the extreme cold. The temperature at the time was about 10 degrees, according to the police report. One of the children had been picked up by a woman at the scene who said the child told her they had been "walking all night."

EMS was called to the scene to treat the children, who were found to be hypothermic, according to the report. 

Deputies said the children's mother, Raqheal Sterling, was running toward the Lil Cricket on New Cut Road when they found her. A deputy handcuffed Sterling and put her in a patrol car.  He said when he went to the ambulance to check on the children, Sterling kicked the back window of the cruiser, breaking it.  He said she had removed the handcuffs and climbed out the broken window.

Deputies said Sterling tried to flee and had to be physically taken down before she was put in another pair of handcuffs and in a patrol car.  Deputies said Sterling was behaving abnormally, and some of the time had a blank stare and no response.

"One of the folks said that when she tried to talk to the mother she seemed to be chanting some unintelligible words that she couldn't understand," said Ivey.

The children were transported to Spartanburg Regional Hospital.

A pastor at Una Life Center, which is just a few blocks from where the incident happened, said he is heartbroken for both the children and Sterling.

"We have churches on every corner where she could have gone to seek help.  A lot of people say she shouldn't have taken the kids out, and of course and I am one of those people, but no one knows her situation," said Cathaye Jones.

Sterling is charged with three counts of child neglect and malicious injury to property, less than $2,000.  She is being held in the Spartanburg County Detention Center on an $8,500 bond.

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