A mother has been arrested after a toddler called 911 to report he and six other kids had been left alone in a hot car.
The young child made the call to dispatchers in Charles County, Maryland, around 1 p.m. on Friday, authorities said in a press release. The child didn’t know where they were, but the operator was able to pinpoint the location of the vehicle to the St. Charles Towne Center, according to the statement.
When officers responded, they found seven children between the ages of 2 and 4 in the vehicle with the windows rolled up and the car not running. Shortly after the children were removed from the car and treated at the scene, the driver arrived.
The driver is a 37-year-old woman. She had been shopping inside the mall for at least 20 minutes, leaving the kids alone in a hot car.
Cars transform into ovens when direct sunlight heats objects inside and this can cause death. At least 800 children have died from vehicular heatstroke since 1998.
“It is against the law to leave a child under the age of 8 unattended inside a motor vehicle if the caregiver is out of sight of the child unless a reliable person at least 13-years-old remains with the child,” the sheriff’s office said.
“It is also dangerous to leave anyone, including pets, inside a motor vehicle especially as outside temperatures become warmer. The temperature inside a parked car can quickly rise to extremely high and even fatal levels in a short period of time.”
The woman is the mother of two of the children and was babysitting the others, according to the sheriff’s office. She was arrested and charged with confinement of children inside a motor vehicle, but may face additional charges
The penalty for leaving children unattended is as much as $500 in fines, 30 days in jail, or both, according to Maryland state law.