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Father Explains Why His 3-Year-Old Was Left Alone At The Grove

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The father of a 3-year-old girl who was found alone with her car seat at the Grove over the weekend says that she wasn't abandoned—and it was all just a misunderstanding.

The whole ordeal left the LAPD issuing an alert asking the public for help in finding the girl's parents or guardians. Parking attendants told the LAPD that they saw a woman drop off the girl, who has been identified as Audrey, along with her car seat around 6 p.m. on Saturday at the valet parking area in the bustling shopping center located in the Fairfax district. However, the woman drove off and nobody had come for the girl, so police officers took her into custody.

It wasn't until Audrey's grandfather, who lives in San Diego, saw a photo of her on the news, that he realized that she was missing and contacted her father, reported CBS Los Angeles. Officers said the father was visibly upset when he arrived at the station on Sunday afternoon.

Her father told police that he had a misunderstanding with another family member on coordinating the dropoff and pickup of his daughter. He said he was planning to meet his family so they could all take a holiday photo together in front of the plaza's Christmas tree. When he couldn't find them, he assumed they had left, including Audrey, he said. He apparently had no idea she had gone missing.

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Relatives told KTLA that the girl's parents are separated and their other family members normally take care of Audrey. Her mother lives in a another state and didn't know about her daughter's disappearance until she saw the news reports, a family member said.

“We seen my sister’s daughter on TV, on the news, and this is all news to us,” Audrey's aunt, who did not want to be identified, told KTLA. “‘There’s a report Audrey has been abandoned at the Grove.’ We heard from that and got all crazy.”

While the father was briefly reunited with his daughter, the Department of Children and Family Services is investigating the incident and is determining which family member to hand Audrey off to. The father isn't facing any criminal charges.