Before Oklahoma road conditions worsened this winter, Cynthia Fairchild must have been thinking about her own little girl when she decided to volunteer for Tulsa's Relations Group Home this holiday season. It's also not out of the ordinary for her, considering what her full-time job already entails. Cynthia has devoted much of her work life caring for animals at kennels and veterinary clinics. She's seen her share of abused and neglected pets and is part of a team at the 24-hour Oklahoma Veterinary Specialists center, where they conduct surgeries and provide emergency services for animals in need.

At about 5 PM on December 13, Cynthia Fairchild was leaving her job and was on her way home when she saw Sara walking along the side I-75 near the 21st Street exit. Cynthia saw that “she was wearing worn out high tops, jeans, and a thin fake leather jacket.” The temperature was 33 degrees which the local weatherman said would have a wind chill that would feel more like 25 degrees. There's no doubt that the girl felt it, as she says that the little girl's “eyes were watering from the icy wind, her dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail and she was carrying a Rudolph stuffed animal.” The clip about Tuesday's temperature refers to that time of day at the 2:15 mark.

Little girl lets Rudolph guide the way

Her impulse to pull over is no doubt a combination of how she cares for those in need in her profession and even more likely, driven by the feeling that something wasn't right. As the good Samaritan says in her Facebook post after the incident, “I'm not sure why she trusted me... but she got into my car...” According to her post, she said that the little girl was walking to her school for a Christmas recital. The school is Chouteau Elementary and is five miles away. Later in the comments for the Facebook post, she said that the girl was only 11-years old.

Holding someone accountable

In trying to find out where she came from and why the girl told her that her mom made her walk and that she didn't want her. According to Google Maps, the drive from where she picked her up is 9-10 minutes, but it's a little over an hours walk. When Cynthia got to the school, she went inside with the girl, found a teacher and a counselor and asked them to call the police.

She would later learn that the child came from Relations Group Home, 3.5 miles away from where she picked her up, which is another hour's walk. Rather than be upset with the little girl about where she said she'd actually come from, she wondered how she was allowed to wander off by herself.

Tulsa's most unwanted

According to a story about the facility published by "Tulsa World," it says that Relations houses children with "high behavioral and emotional needs" and has 32-beds.

It's run by the Department of Human Services (DHS). The same story also describes a similar incident where 11-year old Christopher Seaton and an unnamed 14-year old escaped the home in April of 2013. Unfortunately, that incident ended tragically as Christopher was hit by three trucks when trying to cross interstate 44. DHS determined that a staffer who has since resigned, put the lives of others in danger when he left to get Christopher with two of the residents, who witnessed the incident. The facility's Facebook page says they're permanently closed and the tragic event was confirmed in a final post the day after it happened.

Hope for the holidays

When Cynthia spoke about the school, she said that when they called for the school principal, the counselor said, "we've had another Sara incident, I'm tired of her case workers not doing anything." She says that when she learned about the group home, that she reached out to them to see how she could help, and also considered adoption. But volunteering is the next best thing for now. Chouteau schools will have their Mazie Christmas Program on Thursday night for which the little girl and stuffed Rudolph were braving the bitter cold to get ready for.

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