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11-year-old girl poked by a needle at Walnut Park in Goshen

GOSHEN, Ind. -- A Goshen mother is warning other parents after her 11-year-old daughter was poked by a syringe at Walnut Park. 

It was a sunny afternoon at Walnut Park in Goshen for little Mercedes Bailey and her siblings.

Mercedes’ mother, Lori Deboard, said her kids have been coming to Walnut Park for the last 4 years.

The children never had any issues, until Sunday.

“I went in the bathroom, I went to get some soap so I could wash my hands and something pricked me,” said 11-year-old Mercedes Bailey. “I looked [inside the soap dispenser] and I saw [the] needle.”

“I had a thousand things running through my head,” said Deboard. “[Like] my daughter’s safety due to the syringe poking her and drawing blood.”

The needle was lodged inside a soap dispenser in the restroom and when Mercedes went to show ABC 57 where everything happened, the dispenser was no longer there.

According to a park employee, all soap dispensers at north side Goshen parks have been removed because police found syringes lodged within them.

The park employee said that the parks will be checked on a daily basis.

Lori Deboard is now worried her daughter, Mercedes, may have been exposed to Hepatitis C or even HIV.

“It’s very scary,” said Deboard. “It’s like playing Russian roulette. I’m scared for [Mercedes] because it’s not about me. It’s about her and nobody else.”

The nurse who took care of Mercedes at Goshen Hospital says they did a battery of tests as a precaution.

“The risk is low, but still you don’t want to just take chances and not treat somebody and not take it seriously,” said Sylvia Zakusilov, the nurse practitioner that took care of Mercedes at the ER Sunday afternoon.

Lori Deboard fears it could be addicts using the restrooms to inject drugs.

She’s angry and hoping something like this doesn’t happen again.

“If people want to do what they’re doing, do it at home,” said Deboard. “Keep it away from the public parks. These kids didn’t ask for it, nor do they need to be subjected to it. Period.”

ABC 57 News reached out to both the Goshen Police Department and the Communications Office for the City of Goshen to confirm what the park employee told us about other syringes being found at other parks, but did not receive a response by air time.

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