Baby left in hot car; mother arrested

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Tempe police say a 1-year-old child was left in car this 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 of the infant, 39-year-old Maria-Theresa Pio, 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.
Tempe Police and Fire, Medical, Rescue want to remind the community that as the weather grows increasingly hot, temperatures inside a vehicle can escalate and very quickly cause heat stress and ultimately heat stroke.

"Right now, the temperatures are starting to get hotter," Pooley said. "We always need to keep track of where our children are, especially when we take them out. A lot of times we forget about them when they're sleeping in the vehicle. They fall asleep and we want to do something really quickly, and we want to leave our child in the vehicle. And although it's tempting, although it may be convenient, we've seen too many tragedies happen like this."

The following link provides life-saving, practical information, in addition to the safety tips below:
Safety/Prevention Tips Courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
    -Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.
    -If you see a child unattended in a vehicle, call 9-1-1 immediately.
    -Do not let your children play in an unattended vehicle. Teach them that a vehicle is not a play area.
    -Never leave infants or children in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are partially open.
   - Make a habit of looking inside and around the vehicle - front and back - before locking the door and walking away.
    -If you are dropping your child off at childcare, and normally it's your spouse or partner who drops them off, have your spouse or partner call you to make sure the drop went according to plan.
    -Ask your childcare provider to call you if your child does not show up for childcare.
    -Always lock vehicle doors and trunks and keep keys out of children's reach. If a child is missing, check the vehicle first, including the trunk.
    -If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call the police. If they are in distress due to heat, get them out as quickly as possible.
    -Do things to remind yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as:
    --Writing yourself a note and putting the note where you will see it when you leave the vehicle;
    --Placing your purse, briefcase or something else you need in the back seat so that you will have to check the back seat when you leave the vehicle; or
    --Keeping an object in the car seat, such as a stuffed toy. When the child is buckled in, place the object where the driver will notice it when he or she is leaving the vehicle.