Caught on camera: Mom leaves baby in hot car while shopping


by Jared Dillingham

Bio | Email | Follow: @JaredDillingham

Posted on April 16, 2014 at 10:40 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 16 at 11:00 PM

TEMPE, Ariz. --- Surveillance video from a Fry's grocery store shows an East Valley mother leave her baby in a hot vehicle while she spent more than 40 minutes shopping.

Police say Maria-Theresia Pio, 39, left her 1-year-old son in her Cadillac Escalade around 2:20 p.m. Monday. He sat strapped in his car seat while she shopped at the store near Rural and Ray roads in Tempe.

The video shows Pio walk into the store while talking on her phone and pushing a shopping cart.

It picks up 26 minutes later, showing Pio at the checkout register with a cart full of groceries and a Starbucks drink. 

Around this time, the parking lot camera captures a good Samaritan contacting a firefighter. She reported that a baby was inside an SUV "crying his eyes out."

Firefighters unlocked the doors and got the baby out. They used a heat gun to determine that temperatures inside the SUV reached 113 to 124 degrees.

Pio, still inside, was reading a magazine in the checkout line.

Eventually, an officer is seen entering the store, where he locates the missing mother and then escorts her outside.

Pio was booked into Tempe City Jail on one count of child abuse.

A 3TV crew stopped by her Chandler home on Wednesday after the video was released, but the people inside would not answer the door.

The case is in the hands of Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. He told reporters it should serve as a reminder to all parents as we head into the hot summer months.