STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — As temperatures near triple digits, police and medical professionals are reminding people of the dangers of leaving children in hot cars.
Stockton police arrested a woman after she left her three young daughters in a car by themselves.
“You cannot leave your kids in the car alone, unattended,” said Stockton Police Department spokesman Joe Silva.
Officers arrested Darrisha Raquel Wheeler outside a Stockton grocery store on suspicion of child abuse for leaving her daughters in the car unsupervised.
“The windows of the vehicle were rolled up and the doors were locked,” Silva told FOX40. “Officers did note that the moonroof was slightly cracked, but the girls inside were crying and they were unable to open up the door.”
Silva said officers tried locating the driver but, eventually, had to take action.
“The officers noted it was about 99 degrees outside, so they had to make that decision that they had to get these young girls out of the car and they did that by breaking a window,” Silva explained.
The girls, ages 1, 6 and 7, were checked out by emergency personnel and didn’t appear to show any signs of heat illness.
Using surveillance footage, police determined the girls had been in the car for about 40 minutes.
They said shortly after they got the girls out, Wheeler returned to the car.
“She walked out of the store, made herself known to the officers and she tried to get inside the vehicle and leave, and that’s when our officers had to detain her,” Silva said.
In addition to child abuse, the mother is also facing a charge of resisting arrest.
“Kids can heat up their body temperature up to three times faster than adults can,” said Dr. Jessica Keenan, a pediatrician with Community Medical Centers Inc. “So even within minutes, the child can have severe complications from being inside a car.”
Dr. Keenan said leaving children in a hot vehicle can be deadly.
“So having windows rolled down does not make a huge effect on the temperature within the car,” she said.
According to the National Safety Council, so far this year, there have been 19 deaths from children being left in hot vehicles.
“One of the leading causes of death in motor vehicles — without including accidents or traffic accidents — is heatstroke from being left in a car,” Keenan said.