BENTON — A partially nude woman and two children were taken to a local hospital on Tuesday after they were found in a field near where their car was left abandoned at a residence.
A news release from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said that deputies responded to a call of an abandoned car in rural Royalton at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. Sheriff Dave Bartoni said the residents of the home made the call.
After arriving on the scene, the release said the deputies saw the car and, based on items in the vehicle, believed children to have been in the vehicle.
The release said that based on the circumstances, deputies believed the driver and children to still be nearby and in distress. They then called upon the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency, who brought a drone to assist in the search.
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Bartoni said at about 6:30 p.m., a passerby told officers they had seen a partially nude woman walking in a field with two children. Bartoni said the drone found them almost immediately — he said a 6-month-old infant was being carried by the woman and was completely nude and a 3-year-old walking with the woman wore only a T-shirt. All three were located with the assistance of the drone and taken to the hospital.
An investigation is being conducted by the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Franklin county state’s attorney.
“I’ve got to commend them for listening to their gut,” Bartoni said of the responding officers, adding that without such action, things could have turned out very differently.