Police: Mother shopping at Walmart while child was left in overheated, parked vehicle

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SHREWSBURY, MO (KTVI) - A parent could face child neglect charges after police report an 11-year-old boy was left unattended in a hot vehicle.

A customer was walking through the Walmart parking lot on Watson Road in Shrewsbury when the child was spotted.

When police arrived, the windows were rolled up, and the child had apparently climbed to the back of the sedan, to the trunk.

“It seemed to be about 30 minutes that he was in the car while mom was shopping,” Shrewsbury Lt. Brian Catlett said.  “It was in the mid-90s almost, and it was extremely humid as well, that day.”

Lt. Catlett said the mother claimed the child was not interested in shopping, so he opted to remain in the vehicle. The mother, he said, insisted that the windows were down and that she left the keys in the ignition to keep the air conditioner running.

The child appeared unharmed, he said.

The alleged incident warrants a reminder for adults about the dangers of leaving children unattended in vehicles, particularly in the summer. Children can succumb to dehydration, heat exhaustion or even worse, Lt. Catlett said.

No fatalities of unattended children vehicles have been reported in Shrewsbury, but they have occurred in other cities.

Lt. Catlett said it is potentially dangerous even to leave children in a vehicle with the air conditioner running.

“That’s a recipe for disaster. You never know who’s going to come along,” he said.” Do something toward the child. Steal the car. Steal the car and the child, and not even realize the child was in there. In this case, the child was in the trunk! Someone could have just seen the car was running, and decide to take off on it.”

The case was forwarded to the Division of Family Services. The St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office will determine whether child neglect charges will be filed.