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Girl left at beach reunites with protector

Bayshore, NY: Tuesday, August 21, 2012-- L-R: Pattie

Bayshore, NY: Tuesday, August 21, 2012-- L-R: Pattie Zullo of Ronkonkoma wth ALexia Zambrotta (Lexie),2, the lost toddler that she found at Heckscher State Park and Christina Karimi, Lexie's Mom. They were at the Siben and Siben office. Newsday / Audrey. C. Tiernan Credit: Newsday Audrey C. Tiernan

A 2-year-old girl who was left alone for more than three hours at a South Shore park after a day care outing was reunited Tuesday with the woman who protected her.

The Bay Shore toddler, Alexia Zambrotta, handed a bouquet of red and orange roses to the Good Samaritan -- Pattie Zullo, 47, of Ronkonkoma. "I'm glad I realized something wasn't right and there was a happy ending," Zullo said. "This day and age when a child is left alone like that, anything can happen."

Alexia was accompanied by her grateful mother, Christina Karimi, 37. The reunion was held in the Bay Shore office of Karimi's attorney.

State Park Police Tuesday would not comment on the status of a criminal investigation into the day care center responsible for the outing, Our Little Darlings Early Educational Center, of Bay Shore. Police say day care workers left Heckscher State Park without the girl at 3:10 p.m. on Aug. 14 and did not call to look for the missing toddler until 6:21 p.m.

Zullo said she had taken a friend's three preschool children to a playground near the beach when Alexia wandered over. "Her shoes were untied. I thought it was very strange that no one was there watching her," the mother said. "She stayed with me and I played with her for an hour to an hour and a half. She asked me to push her on the swing. I took care of her."

When no one showed up to claim the little girl, Zullo said she asked where her mom was. "She said 'home.' I asked her who she was there with, and she said her 'friends.' I knew something just wasn't right." Zullo took the girl to lifeguards, who alerted park police.

The owners of the day care center, which had its license revoked by the state last week, have refused to comment.

With Joseph Mallia

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