A Lubbock man is spending the night behind bars after his 4-year-old son was found wandering in the middle of Interstate 20 on Tuesday morning in Nolan County.
The child was found at 6:30 a.m. near the Highway 70 split on the east side of Sweetwater.
When turning onto Interstate 20 early Tuesday morning the last thing Sweetwater high school basketball coach Al Hunt and his son expected to see in the middle of the road was a child.
Yet standing in the middle of the dangerous freeway was 4-year-old Angel Flores.
The coach scooped up Angel and called police. That's when Sweetwater Chief of Police Jim Kelley says they brought the boy to the emergency room and in a hurry.
"Because he has hundreds and hundreds of cactus in him," said Kelley. "At one point we heard that they had counted four to five hundred of them."
After word of Angel's rescue spread through social media, the Saginaw Police Department informed Sweetwater that a man named Carlos Rico had turned himself in and admitted to leaving Angel.
"We understand the father was in route from Lubbock back to Saginaw to live with family members due to marital problems and he had a religious experience and threw him out of the car into a pasture," said Chief Kelley. "He said that this was around 3 a.m. on Tuesday morning, so Angel was alone for at least three and a half hours before he was found."
Rico is charged with child endangerment, and after further questioning he told officers that he had also thrown a black duffel bag out of the car at the same time. More than a dozen officers combed the area where the boy was found looking for the bag. Kelley stated that efforts are being made to bring Rico to Nolan County Jail and that more charges are being sought as their investigation continues. "We have two officers in route to Saginaw and we will continue working here on the case."
Angel was admitted to Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital for observation. His stepmother is currently in Sweetwater with an uncle and is available to take him home, but it is unclear where he will end up. "Child Protective Services is involved and they will decide where Angel will end up after her gets out of the hospital."
Angel's biological mother has been absent for most of his life, but for now Angel has found support in the Sweetwater community. According to Chief Kelley, many people have called and come in wanting to bring clothes and toys to Angel. Efforts are also being made to start a fund for Angel. "I had to get extra people in here to answer phones last night. So many people have been touched by Angel's story and want to help. It just shows the heart of this community in wanting to help a child that they don't even know. Just knowing that a child is in need drives the community to do whatever they can to help."