By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
A local mother is terrified about a trip to Rotary Park gone awry for four children in a local daycare, an incident she says will haunt her until she receives closure.
Amber Hamilton, an employee of Roosevelt General Hospital, considers herself a woman of faith so when she was notified her 6-year-old son was stuck with a needle he found at Rotary Park, her first instinct was to pray as she rushed to her child.
“I was a wreck,” said Hamilton. “I was praying the whole way. I am a very concerned parent. My child should not have to be going through this; they were boys being curious.”
Karen Roach, the director of Rascal Ranch in Portales, says a trip to Rotary Park is part of the children’s daily routine in her program.
On Tuesday, she said four of the boys in the daycare, ages 6-8, were playing when they found a black bag by a tree in the park with two syringes inside.
“Four of the boys got poked but they were afraid to tell the teacher,” Roach said. “It just scares me to death.”
Roach said she notified police and parents, who were then instructed to seek medical treatment for their children immediately.
“They’ve all received medical treatment that afternoon and they’re all back in daycare having fun and playing,” Roach said Thursday.
It was an experience that opened her eyes she said, redirecting her focus into educating children about the dangers of touching things such as needles that they may not understand to be potentially dangerous.
“Who would have thought I’d have to discuss this with them at their age?,” Roach said. “I can’t protect them from every thing but right now the park is not an option.”
Portales Police Lt. Pat Gallegos said there are no leads as to where the needles may have come from and there may not be much else officers can do other than to educate children.
“Right now there’s not a whole lot we can do, we just have to properly dispose of the needles because we’re not sure what was in them,” Gallegos said.
But for Hamilton, the nightmare has just begun and though she’s hoping for the best outcome, she’s asking that people be aware the community has a problem.
“As a parent, I don’t want to blame every one, I want to educate the community that this is a very real problem in our community,” Hamilton said. “We have drugs, we have IV drug users. Parents need to talk to their kids about it.”
Hamilton said her son had to get his blood drawn for tests because of his exposure to the needle which put him at risk of contracting diseases and viruses such as hepatitis. He will continue to have repetitive blood draws over the next year to make sure he isn’t infected. She hopes they can move on with their normal lives.
“It was a traumatizing incident for him,” Hamilton said. “Now we wait and we pray. Anytime you find dirty needles in the park, it’s more than likely to come from drug users. It should have never happened. People shouldn’t leave things like that where kids should be.”