THOMPSON — Kim DeRocca let out a scream of joy in the mostly empty parking lot of the Monticello WalMart on Saturday. “They found her,” she said with tears streaming down her face.
Kim’s grandchild, 7-month-old Brook, had been missing since about noon on Saturday when her father, Cory Clarke, had taken her shopping to the WalMart in Monticello. One of the largest retail outlets in Sullivan County, the store was shut for most of the afternoon as law enforcement officials mounted a search.
Brook was found around 5 p.m. about 150 yards from the WalMart in a wooded area off of Lanahan Road, near an abandoned bungalow, said Capt. Michael Cahill of the state police. Troopers who heard her crying, saw her face down in the mud.
Brook appeared unharmed but was transported to Catskill Regional Medical Center as a precaution, police said.
Clarke, of Monticello, told police the baby went missing from a double stroller while he was in check out line and wasn’t looking. Another child, 18-month-old Charley, was also in the stroller but was safe and unharmed.
Clarke had walked with the two children roughly 3 miles from his house on Mill Street in the Village of Monticello to WalMart, said.
Troopers and sheriff’s deputies searched car trunks in the parking lot and nobody was allowed to enter the store or parking lot during the investigation.
Both Brooke and Charley are the children of Clarke and Michelle DeRocca. The DeRocca family said that a New Jersey Court had recently given the mother custody and the father visitation rights. This weekend was Clarke first visitation weekend, they said.
Andy and Kim DeRocca, the child’s grandparents, had driven their daughter Michelle from Landing, N.J., where Kim now lives, when they heard the news. Michelle emerged from WalMart with Charley securely in her arms shortly after 5 p.m., having just heard that her daughter was found.
“Thank God,” she said, her face flush from crying. Troopers say the father was still being interviewed.
State police aren’t discussing how the 7- month-old ended up face down in the mud a few yards away from the store but are continuing their investigation.
The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, the Monticello Police Department and the Monticello Fire Department, as well as WalMart security, assisted with the search and investigation.