Children locked in hot car as mom shopped, authorities say
L.A. County sheriff's officials praised members of the public for alerting them to the plight of two young children who were left inside a car during sweltering condition Saturday in Cudahy.
The children's mother was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment after allegedly leaving them in the locked car while she went shopping.
Arely Amaya, 18, is suspected of leaving her 1-year-old son and 2-week-old daughter strapped in their car seats as outside temperature reached 92 degrees. The car's interior was probably 10 to 15 degrees hotter, and the children were hot and sweaty to the touch, said Lt. Daniel Lopez of the East Los Angeles sheriff’s station.
A deputy was able to unlock the car through a partially open rear window and the children were kept in an air-conditioned patrol car until paramedics arrived, Lopez said.
“We really appreciate it when citizens call us with information like this,” he said. “We’d like to thank that citizen who placed that call.”
Investigators estimated that the children had been confined in the car for 20 to 25 minutes.
The children were in stable condition Saturday night at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood. Amaya was in custody in lieu of $105,000 bail and faces possible felony charges.
Each year, dozens of children left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia, an acute condition that occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle, according to the National Weather Service.
Even on a mild day, the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults. Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly help, the weather service advises. The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate.
The Weather Service noted that in one recent case, a child died of hyperthermia in a car when the outside temperature was only 81 degrees.
“No amount of time is safe to keep a child or pet in a vehicle when temperatures are this high,” Lopez said.
— Howard Blume
Photo: Inside the car where the children were locked inside. Credit: KTLA News.