Mom who left child in SUV released without bail

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Video report by Jaime Cerreta

Posted on April 15, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 17 at 10:14 AM

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Chandler, Ariz. mother accused of leaving her baby in an SUV on Monday was ordered to be released from jail on her own recognizance.

Child Protective Services said Maria-Theresa Pio, 39, is not allowed to be with her 14-month-old son for at least one week according to court paperwork released on Tuesday.

Tempe police say Pio left the child in an SUV last weekend for 40 minutes. Temperatures inside the vehicle reached 124 degrees.

On April 12 at approximately 3 p.m., an off-duty Tempe firefighter discovered a baby, secured in a child seat in a Cadillac Escalade SUV, in the parking lot of a Fry's grocery store near Ray and Rural roads in Tempe. Police say the mother could be seen on surveillance video standing in line at a Starbucks inside the store, reading a magazine.

Her vehicle was not running and the child was said to be crying and sweating profusely.

"The baby was extremely hot," said Tempe police Lt. Michael Pooley. "He was crying, and as you can imagine, anyone being in that temperature for 40 minutes, anyone for that amount of time, it's going to be extremely hot."

Firefighters, fire medics and police responded to the scene, removing the infant from the vehicle quickly. The child was transported to a local hospital. He was treated by medical personnel and released to his father. The boy will reportedly make a full recovery.

Tempe police say the interior temperature of the vehicle was measured at 124 degrees and the infant car seat was 113 degrees. Measurements were taken using a digital infrared thermometer. Police explain that the smaller the child, the more quickly he overheats and the more difficult it is for him to cool down, especially in a confined space.

The mother had been inside the market for nearly 41 minutes. Child Protective Services was notified and the mother was booked into the Tempe City Jail on one count of child abuse.

Pio's friend, who came to pick up the SUV, told police she was surprised by the incident but expected it to occur. She said Pio had forgotten to pick up her children a from a sleepover in the past and she typically came late to pick up her children from martial arts classes. She also told police that Pio was known to party and drink alcohol often.

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