A Ohio woman was arrested while waiting in the checkout line at a local Walmart after police say they rescued her five-month-old from her vehicle in the parking lot.
WFMJ reports that the 24-year-old woman left her baby in a locked vehicle for about 50 minutes while she shopped Tuesday evening.
According to local authorities, a fellow shopper spotted the baby in vehicle, whose windows were up and air conditioning turned off, around 6 p.m. when the temperature was hovering around 73 degrees, WKBN reports.
The woman alerted police, who were able to force the vehicle’s door open with the assistance of a local towing company. The baby, who was sweaty and crying, was examined by an ambulance service and released to its grandfather.
The baby’s mother was then arrested on child endangerment charges by police while she waited in the Walmart checkout line.
A Serious Danger
While leaving a child behind in a hot car may seem unthinkable, incidents have increased since rear-facing child safety seats that must be installed in the back seat became standard.
According to a 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post feature on the phenomenon, that change made it much easier to overlook the presence of a child in the back, especially if the child is quiet or sleeping, and if a family’s routine is disrupted in some way.
This year, according to the group Kids and Cars, nine children across the country have died when left behind in a parked car, and a total of 800 children have been killed since 1990.
One such incident was reported last month when Walmart employees in South Carolina spotted a 6-month-old baby inside of a locked car in the parking lot. The workers jumped into action and broke the vehicle’s window to rescue the baby, whose parents said they had forgotten about leaving the youngster behind.
Child safety advocates are campaigning for automakers to include features that sense weight in the back seat or remind drivers to check the back in new cars, which some automakers have started to introduce.