Last weekend, a toddler was left in a sweltering car in a Kansas City parking lot while her aunt and uncle shopped. The windows were rolled up. It was 91 degrees with a heat index of 101. Thankfully, a bystander saw the baby in the car and ran into a nearby store for help.
The manager of the store, Sarah Oropeza, ran to the car to see if she could do something. She told ABC News, “The windows were totally rolled up, all the doors were locked. She was covered in sweat.” Oropeza began banging on the window with multiple objects until she was able to free the child. The entire ordeal lasted about three minutes, but Oropeza told a local news station it “felt like an eternity.” She said, “”I was just praying, “Break the window. She is going to die.”
A bystander recorded the incident, and said when the baby was finally freed she was covered in sweat and wearing boots. Onlookers were crying. The police report stated, “The child was screaming and extremely sweaty. The citizen took action and broke out a window and got the child out. The child was checked out by medical personnel.”
When the couple returned and followed the crowd that had assembled at Oropeza’s store. They asked to retrieve their niece, and insisted they had only been gone for four minutes. Oropeza said of her encounter with the couple, “”No emotion at all, whatsoever. The only question they had for police was if insurance was going to pay to cover the window that we broke.”
The police ticketed the couple but prosecutors may be considering child endangerment charges now that the case has garnered so much attention.
There is just no way to justify this behavior. We’ve all driven on hot days. If you park in a lot in 91 degree weather and run into a store for even a few minutes, you return to a car that feels like an oven. Why didn’t one of the adults stay in the car with the chid? How hard is it to remove a toddler from the car and take her with you? You simply cannot make a logical argument for the decision this couple made.
There is no excuse for knowingly leaving a toddler in a locked car and walking away from that car. Unless you’re paying for gas, briefly running back into the house – or a swift scenario where your child is in always in sight – there is no explanation for leaving a toddler in the car on a hot day. There just isn’t.
Caring for children means there will be extra work. There will be times when you don’t want to deal with holding a child, or unloading the car for what you deem will be a “brief” encounter. This couple insists it was only four minutes, which is doubtful — but maybe they should try sitting in a car with the windows rolled up in the 91 degree Kansas City sun for four minutes and see how it feels.
People are idiots.