The Windy City was hammered by winter storms that dumped 18 inches of snow on Chicagoans last week.
And a South Side Chicago man happened upon a troubling sight while slogging through the blizzard-beaten roads on Wednesday, Feb. 17.
Tony Taylor spotted a 7-year-old girl roaming the streets alone in Englewood, one of the city’s most notorious neighborhoods. The girl was alone, wearing no shoes, and dressed in nothing but her onesie pajamas, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Taylor’s reaction to the heartbreaking discovery has him being hailed as an angel and local hero.
“I saw a lot of people yesterday; they kept going,” he said. “That’s not me. I wouldn’t care if it was 20 feet of snow out here, I would’ve stopped.”
Taylor pulled over and picked the girl up, covered her in his coat and put her in his car to shield her from the freezing temperatures, which dropped as low as six degrees. He called 911, then took to Facebook Live to issue a public bulletin asking for help to find aid for the child.
“Someone please come to 59th and Halsted, I have a little girl that’s lost. I just found her on 59th and Halsted,” he pleaded in the video. “The little girl is lost; I’m trying to help her.”
Now Taylor is being credited for saving the child’s life. Alderman Stephanie Coleman, the Chicago councilwoman who represents Englewood, held a press conference Thursday, Feb. 18, to hail Taylor for his heroic intervention.
“I told Mr. Taylor, ‘You’re an angel. You saved this baby’s life and you changed her life forever,’ ” Coleman said. “I just have to celebrate you and change the narrative. This brother is from Englewood. And he is the difference and the change that we want to see.”
Early Walker, a community activist known as “Chicago’s Secret Santa,” rewarded Taylor and his wife with a night’s stay at a five-star hotel and a limo ride while Chicago-area publicist Sean Howard tacked on two free plane tickets to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“We are thrilled. This could’ve been a totally different situation,” Walker said. “We could’ve been standing here today offering reward amounts for a missing child. But instead, we are standing here praising Tony and his wife for stepping up and doing what any other individual should do.”
Taylor, 46, found the child just after 5 p.m. Wednesday. He was driving in the 800 block of West 59th Street and said his 5-year-old daughter, who was in the car with him, spotted the girl walking in the snow. She was carrying a MacBook Pro laptop and clearly was underdressed for the frigid cold.
Stunned by the sight, Taylor stopped to help. He told reporters the girl was shivering, her feet felt like icicles and she was crying. The girl gave Taylor her address, which was about a mile away, and told him she was being abused. Taylor said he noticed a scar on her face.
“I don’t want to go home to my mommy and daddy because they hit me,” he said the child told him.
He said when he put her in his car, the girl told him, “Mister sir, I love you.”
“I love you too,” Taylor replied.
Authorities have not yet confirmed if the little girl walked as far as she claimed, but Taylor indicated it was clear to him that she’d been in the inclement weather for an extended period.
“That’s a very long walk. And people having to shovel their snow and do other things, no one saw her walking? I don’t understand that,” he said Thursday. “To this day right now, I still don’t understand it how no one saw this child.”
Police arrived and took the girl to Comer Children’s Hospital where she was evaluated. Taylor followed them there and remained at the hospital for five hours making sure the child checked out favorably. Walker indicated she’s now “homeless and parentless” as her mother and father have yet to come forward.
According to one of Taylor’s Facebook posts, a woman claiming to be the girl’s grandmother showed up to the hospital Wednesday night. But the woman told doctors she had to move her car and never came back.
“This is sad. These people don’t need to have kids,” he said in a livestream from outside the children’s hospital. “Could somebody please come and see about your grandchild, your cousin, whoever. If you know her, please come.”
Local officials said the Illinois Department of Family Services was notified and Chicago Police Department detectives were investigating. No one reported the girl missing, according to WGN.
Police located her parents and the child was temporarily placed with extended family while DCFS investigates what happened and why, ABC 7 reported.
According to NBC Chicago, Taylor and his wife are interested in adopting the girl once she is released from the hospital.
“I did what anyone should’ve done,” Taylor said. “I just want parents to be parents. Raise your child, be by your child, console your child. These times in Chicago are very bad. I was born and raised here. I’m 46 years old. And I’ve seen it all. And our youth these days, if they continue to see this it’s just going to be a cycle. And we don’t want it to be a cycle.”