(DENVER) — A Colorado mom who does not remember leaving her two young sons in a van and disappearing for hours is being examined Monday by doctors for clues into what happened.
Police arrested the 26-year-old woman for child abuse and are eager for answers; a handgun has gone missing from the woman’s home.
Almost 12 hours after leaving her two sons, ages 2 and 4, in a van parked at a Thornton, Colo. gas station Saturday, Sarah Hatfield said she could not remember leaving her boys, nor could she explain how she arrived outside National Jewish Hospital in Denver around midnight that night.
“She called me and said, ‘I don’t know how I got here, but I’m here. Please come get me,'” Hatfield’s husband Matthew told ABC News. “She was frantic and crying and sobbing and just confused. We just have no idea what happened.”
Hatfield, who has a history of insomnia and debilitating migraines, was arrested and charged with two counts of misdemeanor child abuse. She is currently undergoing tests at a local hospital for a possible seizure disorder.
“There’s no doubt that people can have a seizure and afterwards be confused, be lethargic and have an impairment of memory for what happened shortly before,” said Dr. Orrin Devinsky, director of the NYU Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. Devinsky, who has not examined Hatfield, said seizures can lead to a fugue state. “Most of the time it’s brief. A fugue state lasting for hours would be very uncommon, but it certainly can occur.”
Devinsky said insomnia and migraines are more common among people with seizure disorders, but they can signal other problems, too.
“It’s possible is may have been a psychotic episode, unconsciously motivated, where there’s a reaction to some stressor,” said Devinsky. “It could also be a conscious thing — life just got to be too much. And after realizing they shouldn’t have done something, the person has to come up with a story.”
At around 2:30 Saturday afternoon, Thornton police responded to a call from the gas station alerting them to an abandoned gold van in the parking lot. Inside police found the two boys, as well as Hatfield’s wallet, cell phone and keys.
“We did an extensive search of the area and filed a missing persons report,” said Thornton police spokesman Matt Barnes. Hatfield seemed disoriented when she was found 10 hours later after asking a security guard at National Jewish Hospital to use a phone to call home, according to police.
When police arrived at the hospital, “She advised she could not remember what had happened from the time she pulled into the gas station to the time she arrived at National Jewish,” said Barnes. “She didn’t suspect foul play or abduction, nor was she injured.”
But she was sore, possibly from walking 12 miles down Interstate 25.
A handgun normally locked away in the Hatfield home is also missing, Matthew Hatfield said.
“I don’t know when it went missing,” he said of the gun, which was last seen around New Years. “It’s possible that if we are dealing with a seizure disorder, it could have gone missing at any point.”
Thornton Police are requesting a search warrant for the van hoping to recover the missing weapon.
Matthew Hatfield said his wife’s behavior is out of character, adding she’s never been in trouble before and doesn’t do drugs.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio