PALATKA, Fla. — Parents in Palatka are telling Action News Jax about their kids becoming sick inside the city’s Walmart. Two families tell us their kids unexpectedly started screaming in pain not long after walking into the store.
The most concerning part for parents is that they have almost no idea why it’s happening.
“I was so scared, I thought my kid was going to die,” said Lacy Goss, who rushed her daughter to the emergency room after she started breaking out in painful red splotches inside the Walmart. Goss said it happened on Saturday, October 14.
Goss said it started soon after she walked her daughter through the store’s toy aisle. Medical records given to Action News Jax say Goss’ daughter touched toys in the aisle, then touched her face before developing a rash and hives.
“Her face started to get splotchy,” Goss said. “It started in one spot and then spread all over.”
Goss shared multiple pictures of her daughter’s condition shortly after the store. You can see tears streaming down her face, swollen in a bright red rash. Emergency room notes describe the incident as an allergic reaction.
“She’s not allergic to anything that [my husband and I] are aware of,” Goss said. “This is the first thing she’s had where we didn’t know what it was.”
But Goss’ daughter isn’t the only one. Just last Friday, Kylee Liles, who had taken her daughter to Walmart to pick out a toy after a school field trip in Palatka, said her daughter had almost the exact same experience after touching a stuffed animal.
“We were in one aisle, when, all of a sudden, I turned around and she was hysterical, grabbing her face, wanting to pretty much scream,” Liles said.
Liles also shared pictures with Action News Jax of her daughter moments after rushing out of the store. Her face is also covered in red splotches and Liles said she had no clue what was happening, or how to help.
“It honestly makes me never want to take my kids into another store,” Liles said. “I am absolutely terrified.”
Based on their children’s reactions, both Liles and Goss believe someone put pepper spray on the toys in the aisle. Dozens of parents responded to their stories online, saying the same thing has happened to at least one other family.
“These kids are babies, they’re not teenagers, not adults, it’s not okay,” Goss said.
Action News Jax reached out to the Palatka Police Department, asking if officers were aware about these incidents or what may have caused them. Right now, the department said no reports have been filed.
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We also reached out to Walmart, who gave Action News Jax this statement:
“The safety of our customers and associates is a top priority. Out of an abundance of caution, we are engaging a third party to professionally to clean the area.”
The company did not mention a possible cause for what’s happened to these kids. Palatka police say if something similar has happened to you or your kids, to call the department immediately.